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RECOLLECTIONS OF RICHARD HTJEI4ER 



Interviewed by Joe Adamson 



AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE MOTION PICTURE IN AMERICA 



Copyright (c) 1909 
The Regents of the University of California 



RESTRICTIONS 



This manuscript is hereby made available for research 
purposes only. All literary rights in the manuscript, 
including the right to publication, are reserved to 
the University Library of the University of California 
at Los Angeles. No part of the manuscript may be 
quoted for publication without the written permission 
of the University Librarian of the University of 
California at Los Angeles. 



Portions of this transcript have been permanently 
deleted and no record retained at the explicit request 
of the interviewee and therefore gaps in the text will 
be found on certain pages of this transcript. 

Correspondence pertaining to this request is on file 
at the UCLA Oral History Program office. 



AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE MOTION PICTURE IN AMERICA 



This interview was completed under a grant (1968-1969) 
from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the 
American Film Institute to the UCLA Department of Thea- 
ter Arts for a project entitled, AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE 
MOTION PICTURE IN AMERICA, directed by Professor Howard 
Suber, UCLA Department of Theater Arts. The UCLA Oral 
History Program provided technical advice to this pro- 
ject but was not involved in the respondent selection, 
research preparation, interviewing, or the editing and 
transcript preparation. The Program's editorial office 
received the final manuscripts and assumed responsibility 
for their processing and transferal to the University 
Library. In most cases the original tape recordings and 
the edited transcript of the interviews completed by the 
project are deposited in the University Archives, UCLA. 
Records relating to the project have been turned over 
to the Oral History Program. 



11 



TABLE OF CONTENTS 



Biographical Sketches. . . o 



IV 



TAPE NUMBER: 1, Side One 



TAPE NUMBER: I^ Side Two 



TAPE NUMBER: II, Side One 



TAPE NUMBER: 



II, Side Two 



TAPE NUMBER: III, Side One 



July 24, 1968) 1 



July 31, 1968) 



August 7, 1908; 



;o 



99 



September 10, I968) . . .I30 



October 8, I968). ... 179 



TAPE NUl'IEER: III, Side Two 209 



TAPE rroi'IBER: IV, Side One 2l6 



TAPE NWIBER: IV, Side Tvio (June 30, I969) 



^<y^ 



111 



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES 

DICK liUEMER ( I898- ) has served in this Oral History 
both as a subject and as an historian himself. An ani- 
mator by profession and a history bug by avocation, Huemer 
has had a reputation since the middle 50' s for being an 
expert on anecdotes and reminiscences pertaining to the 
History of Animation, for being somebody who was very 
much "there at the time." His knowledge stretches back 
as far as I916, when he entered the industry, on up through 
Disney's Golden Age, from the mid-30' s to the early 40's. 
But Huemer' s own career has not been v/ithout distinc- 
tion. Prized as one of the m.ajor animators of the 20' s, 
he flitted back and forth from studio to studio, command- 
ing top salaries everywhere, and by I93I was directing 
his own series for Columbia. For Disney he performed, 
in true Disney fashion, a number of odd jobs that were 
started or completed by somebody else, and his chores 
varied from animation, to animation direction (THE WHALERS, 
GOOFY AND WILBUR), to story direction for FANTASIA (he 
and Joe Gi'ant were the supervisors of a team of lesser 
"story directors"), and for DUMBO (a project whose under- 
taking was largely his responsibility) . Betv.^een them, Dick 
Huemer and Joe Grant developed an early form of limated 



IV 



animation for the "Baby Weems" sequence in RELUCTANT 
DRAGON, and Huemer's animation and direction credits 
include bits and snatches of SNOW WHITE (an unused se- 
quence) and PINOCCHIO (the early sections). During the 
war_, the Huemer-Grant team was responsible for some of 
the propaganda war shorts that kept the studio financially 
operable. After that, the team broke up, and Huemer 
drifted from project to project, and, finally, from stu- 
dio to studio, before returning to Disney's in the early 
50 's to help prepare TOOT, IVHISTLE, PLUNK, AND BOOM, and 
some of the History of Animation episodes of the DISNEY- 
LAND TV show. Since the mid-50' s he has been occupied 
chiefly v.'ith Disney's "True-Life Adventure" syndicated 
comic strip. 

Mr. Pluemer is probably as affable and agreeable a 
subject as any intervievjer could wish for, and his gen- 
erously sprinkl.ed touches of wit proved just the kind of 
huemerous [sic] spice the Oral History needed. The six 
interview sessions, held in the small study of his home 
on Hesby Street in the San Fernando Valley, all v;ent on 
for at least an hour and a half, and the fifth and sixth 
lasted for approximately two hours apiece--an exhausting 
duration for any interviewee. Huemer conscientiously 



V 



drew up notes for most of the sessions, and then proceeded 
not to use them. The major exception to this was the fifth 
interview, which was practically read verbatim--except for 
the questions and answers--from a prepared statement, as 
Huemer felt he was a better writer than he was a speaker. 
The first five sessions were held in I968 on July 24, 3I; 
August 7; September 10; and October 8. The last was held 
in 1969 on June 30. All interviews proceeded peacefully 
and without interruption. May they amuse and instruct. 

JOE ADAMSON (1945- ) is a graduate (B.A., cum laude, 
1967; M.A., 1970) of the Motion Picture Division of UCLA's 
Theater Arts Department, and recipient of an American 
Film Institute Fellowship in I969, and a University Film 
Foundation Fellowship in 1970. A student and amateur 
filmmaker from i960 to I969, Adamson is the author of tvjo 
forthcoming books on film history: GROUCHO, HARPO, CHICO, 
AND SOMETIMES ZEPPO, and TEX AVERY/CHUCK JONES. Mr. 
Adamson is a frequent panel member for University con- 
ferences on the Arts, a contributor to film magazines 
such as TAKE ONE and FILM COMMENT, and an occasional 
screenwriter. He is currently head of the film study 
program at Pennsylvania State Universitv. 



VI 



TAPE NUMBER ONE: SIDE ONE 



Adamson: Just to start v/ith, I'll ask you when you 
were 'born. 

Huemer: I was born in Brooklyn, January the seconfS , 1'='98! 
the turn of the century. 

Adamson: And you first started to draw at the age of 
four. 

HueiT.er: Yes. If you'll pardon a turn of the century 
pun — I first started to draw rr.y breath at the age of one 
minute. I became interested in animation when I v;as 
about ten years old, and I used to animate little figures 
in notebooks, and flip them,, little figures of boxing, 
or athletic events, and that really v/as the first 
animation I ever did. I got the idea from little photo- 
graohic animation books that were current at the tim.e. 
Incif^entally, that's where VJinsor McCay got his ideas 
to do animation, I understand from his son, whom I 
met, v/hile we were working on a Disney picture. There 
had been a fire in the drugstore in the neighborhood, 
and they found num.erous of these little flipbooks, 
which v;ere about three inches square, and you flaooed 
them, and you saw a little scene. I supcose they had 
been film.s. They used to give them away in drugstores 



as an advertisement. 

Adamson: Were you scriblDling in your ov/n school note- 
books? 

Huemer: That's right. Imitating them. I v/as the local 
high school cartoonist. I went to Morris High School 
in the Bronx, and Alexander Hamilton in Brooklyn. And 
in both cases I drew cartoons for the annuals, and 
wherever cartoons v/ere needed for bulletin boards. I 
always liked to drav/, in other v7ords. 

The first film I ever saw vzas the Nelson-Ganz 
fight, which v;as at Coney Island. It v/as a film of the 
fight, of course. They had signs outside of these little 
restaurants, vrhich said, 'Basket Parties Welcom.e.' >rnich 
meant that you could go into these places, which v/ere 
filled with tables, and m.y father v/ould order a glass 
of beer or coffee, and hot dogs for us kids, and v/e 
would open our sandwiches and eat them, and they would 
project these strange movies. One of which v;as the 
Nelson-Ganz fight, and I'm sure we saw som.e of Lumiere's 
and other French producer's pictures then. In shocking 
Dink color, some of them were. Anim.ated cartoon movies 
V7ere done then by somebody nobody ever mentions: Wallace 
Carlson. He did som.ething called 'Dreamy Dud.' And I 
saw those about 1914 at the local theaters in the Bronx. 

Adamson: This is after Winsor McCay, 



Huemer: About the same time. I saw his 'Gertie the 
Dinosaur' at the Cretona Theater in the Bronx; and I 
was therefore able to recreate it later on a Disney T,V. 
show, where we reenacted McCay's performance including 
the picture 'Gertie* which, of course, as you knov/, 
still exists. 

Adamson: vThat v/ere your reactions to these film.s? 

Huemer: VJe didn't have the expression then but if v;e 
had, I xv'ould have said I 'flipped.' I really was sold 
on animated cartoons. Involvement v.'ith live-action 
films seemed out of reach. Esnecially as I liked to 
draw. I spent about a year at art school: Art Students' 
League, in '.'Tew York City. I studied under Bridgeman, 
the famous anatomy teacher. Really was famous. Didn't 
rub off much on me though, 

Adamson: VThat did you do, just sketch nudes and things? 

Huemer: Yes, that's right. Studied anatomy and painted 
a little. But I alvrays wanted to be a cartoonist. Ud 
in Fordham., where I lived, almost every day I oassed a 
sign on the door of the building opposite the university, 
which said, 'Raoul Barre: Cartoonist.' And this in- 
trigued me to no end, and I walked ud the stairs, and T 
walked into the animating business. ^Jhen Raoul Barre 



looked up from his dnsk and said, 'vrhat can I do for 
yoii? ' in his strange Canadian brogue, I said, 'I would 
like a job.' He said, 'You v/ould like a job?* I said, 
'Yes.' He said, 'Go to the next room and sit down, they'll 
put you to v.'ork. ' It was as simple as that. And they 
put me to work at something that was called tracing. 

This v/as a-Qout 1916 and they were doing Mutt and 
Jeff cartoons. I had to quit high school to go to the 
League, that's how much I wanted to be an artist, and 
now I was quitting the League to go into cartooning. 
I was abandoning the fine arts. They already had the 
cell system, but it was not the way it's done today, 
which is the cells ooaqued , to fit over the background. 
Our cells vjere used to contain the background and what- 
ever lines on a scene V7ere not 'disturbed ' by the character. 
All the action was carried on the paper. We inked on 
paper, with ver^/ flashy techniques, in the imitation 
of Heinrich Kley, once in a while. And I would take 
a series of cells that fitted over the paper to complete 
the picture. If the character vralked in front of an 
object, the drav/ings that it took for him to pass that 
object had to have whatever he 'disturbed* drawn on 
that drawing. That's where the tracing came in, we 
traced that thing in the background onto those five or 



six drawings while he was passing the object. And then 
that went on celluloid and stayed there, because he wasn't 
disturbing it anymore. But he v/as walking in front of 
something else now, and then that had to be traced. In 
other v/ords, we broke the scene down into little grouos 
of areas that were disturbed, so that we could trace 
those onto paper. The foreground stuff v/as on celluloid, 
and the ceiling would be on celluloid — v;hich was never 
disturbed. So it took about three celluloids, I think 
that's the most we used. And then with the paoer, you 
had your complete frame. I was doing the tracing, from 
the background that somebody laid out. I didn't do it 
very long; in three weeks, I was animating. That's how 
easy it was in those days. 

The staff consisted of about five animators, and 
about five or six tracers. Actually, there weren't 
more than fifteen people at the studio, Barre made 
one film a v/eek, that never ran over 450 feet. And, 
believe it or not, it cost about a thousand dollars. 
And that's v/hat he got for it, about a thousand dollars. 
The most he ever got was 1500 dollars. 

Adamsons How did you get your promotion? 

Huemer: By asking for it. And the genial frenchman 
said, 'vThy not?' He was a very fine gentleman. Animation 
in those days vras not a difficult art. If it moved, it 



was good. Actually, the novelty carried it. The business 
got into trouble when the novelty v/ore off, and the 
people expected to see gags, and better animation and 
better ideas. VJhich, of course, Disney eventually 
succeeded in doing. 

Adamson: Hov; funny v;ere these films at the time you 
wandered in? 

Huemer: As we used to say in those days, as funny as 
a crutch. This was an expression. They weren't funny, 
actually. They really weren't. We got very fev; laughs. 
I can remember taking my family to see some bit of 
animation I was particularly proud of, and, just as it 
went on, somebody behind m.e said, 'Oh, I hate these things, ' 
We actually didn't consider the audiences as much as 
we should have. We did things more or less to please 
ourselves. It was as though we were enjoying ourselves, 
doing what we liked, what we thought was funny. It v/as 
just not understandable to audiences, very often. We 
were given a portion of the picture, over a very rough 
scenario. Very, very sketchy, no boards like we have 
today, nothing like that. The scenario would orobably 
be on a single sheet of paper, vzithout any models, 
sketches, or anything, you made it up as you went along. 
You were given a part of the picture, and, you did what 



you wanted. If it was a picture about iceskating, you 
took a scene of somebody on ice skates, and you used 
your own gags, and made it all up. We had some famous 
people who came later on to Hutt and Jeff: Milt Gross 
was one of them, and Gregory LaCava worked up there 
a while, and men from the magazines like Nankeville. 

Adamson: How v/ere these stories v/ritten? 

Huemer: We all helped. We'd spend an evening talking 
about it. And that's all it amounted to. Sometimes, 
if somebody had. an idea, he would do it himself. Generally 
it was Dicking a theme. I can remember som.e of the titles. 
One was about housepainting, and we called it, Painter 's 
Frolic . Nov/, all you did was whatever you wanted to, 
anything a painter did. Another one was called The 
Steeple Chase . This was a rooftop thing. VJe did pictures 
about Hav/aii, v/e'd say, 'Let's do a Hawaiian picture.' 
'Fine. I'll do the surf stuff, you do the cannibals,' 
or whatever else. Five animators would do it, and we'd 
do it all in a week. Som.e artists were faster than 
others. Some were quite fast. Some of. them v/ere really 
slashy with their pen techniques. 

Adamson: Like Winsor McCay. 

Huemer: The next thing that really was a tremendous 
improvement v/as the opaque cell, v/hich Terry was a great 



8 



devotee of, v/hen he did his Aesop's fables. Terry's 
cartoons were already a little better. At least, the 
characters were cute. And at the end of each picture 

he'd have a little funny moral: A.esop said, ' ' 

The reason he could make slightly better pictures v/as 
because he had a great deal with RKO, v7ho had bought 
into his studio, which assured that each one of his 
pictures would play all their houses, for a good price. 
So Terry was the first one to really m.ake money, in 
this business. Pat Sullivan made money too, but in 
a different way: his pictures were so popular in 
England, that they got all sorts of objects and 
artifacts, handkerchiefs with Felix the Cat on them., 
and this, similar to v;hat happened to Disney, defrayed 
the cost of his pictures and gave him a nice profit. 
Felix the Cat v/as bigger in England than it ever v/as 
here. . 



Adamson: Seems to be an occupational hazard. 

Huemer: No, not really, v/e weren't as bad as news- 
paper people. Animators actually were a very jolly 
bunch. It used to be a lot of fun, working in the studios. 



a lot of horseplay. A lot of kidding. Mo tirneclocks 
or anything like that. VJe did a lot of things like 
sending nev: peoole for a box of vanishing ooints, 
you know, that old gag. '//hen a new guy v/ould come in, 
they'd send him out for a film stretcher. 

Adamson: Like a day camp. 

Huem.er: Yes, it was really fun. And we did our stints 
quite com.fortably ; there v/as no stress. After all, 
450 feet for about five or six m.en to do, that's not 
such a chore, especially if you like to drav;. 

Adamson: How many drav/ings V70uld you do in an hour? 

Huemer: About twenty. Maybe more. Depending. In 

those days, v/e did a lot of hold positions, and just moved 

maybe an eye. ':-7hen a character talked, all we'd have 

v/as a Repeat and Reverse of a mouth m.ovement, and the 

rest of the figure didn't move at all. It v/as traced 

on a cell. And then the mouth, just this little bit, 

was on paper. Then a balloon would come out, v/ith 

lettering, and hold, and then explode. As his mouth 

manipulated, the balloon came out, very quickly, just 

bloopl in about five drav;ings, and held while you 

read the balloon. And then it whirled away or exoloded. 



10 



V7e hacl various v/ays of accornolishing that. Characters 
did violent takes, like all the hair flying off. Once 
I had all the features fly off in the air and come back 
and slap back in Mutt's face. This v/as a 'take.' VJe 
experimented v/ith all these crazy things. 

Adamson: Kow did audiences react then? 

Huemer: They didn't get it. I sv^ear, they didn't get 
it. For one thing, the timing was off. And v/e didn't 
have sound. Sound was the great saviour of the animated 
cartoon. I was with Barre till about '21. And then the 
place folded as they so often did in those days. You 
never could be sure of your job. Every spring v/as a 
crisis. This was contract time, you know, with the 
releasing company. I can rem.ember being told, 'Don't 
go far, we'll call you. Don't call us.' And never 
being called. 

Barre was a very dedicated oerson, just like 
Walt Disney was later on. His idea v/as to plov/ back 
everything into the business and not v/orry about 
making a profit for him.self. He rightly figured 
that if the pictures were good enough, why, they 
would pay their v/ay, and people would demand them, 
which is v/hat Disney eventually accomplished. Walt's 
pictures cost him much more than he got for them, at 
first; even Three Little Pigs made not so much money 



11 



as you n:ay think. 



He v/as such a nice 
little Frenchman, who had a funny v^/ay of talking, I 
can still remember, he would say things like, 'Mutt 
comes into de room, and. throvrs the tom,-a-toe at the 
cannery. ' Meaning the tomato at the canary. Cute 
guy, too bad he lost his marbles. 

Mutt and Jeff started as a comic strip that had 
to do v7ith horseracing. It would predict winners of 
each day's race. That's how it got its fame. It 
didn't matter what the gag was, in the last balloon, 
he'd say something like, 'Well, I'm outting my m.onoy 
on Bluenose in the sixth race. ' He did very vjell 
predicting these things. Finally, he drooped that, 
m.aybe there came a time that he was losing too con- 
sistently. It became a regular type comic strio, 
one of the very fev/ strips of the tim.e. This goes 
v/ay back to the time of 'The Yellow Kid,' and comic 
strips like that. I don't know exactly hov; Barre 
got it. Mutt and Jeff. I do know that he m.ust have 
gotten it through Bud Fisher, the guy v/ho drew it. 



12 



Fisher financed it, but had nothing whatever to do with 
the pictures. 'Je saw hir. very seldom. We heard he 
was a millionaire by then. Even then, he v.'an a fantastic 
businessman. Ha just had a knack for making money. The 
strip was enormously popular, it v.'as orobably the biggest 
strip of its day. Something like 'Peanuts' is now, 

Adamson; VThat did he think of the cartoons? 

Huemer; I don't know if he ever saw them or gave a damn 
about them. Just financed it, it v/as another venture 
of his. But he did watch the releasing very carefully. 
I understand that he checked in on that, and he caught 
somebody vrho V7as robbing him. and hauled him over the 
coals. He was really a very shre^-vd guy. You knov7, 
he had a million in the days when it was like having 
a billion nov/. 

Adamson; Is that why Mutt and Jeff continued, even 
after the 3arre corporation folded? 

Huemer: I think Fisher turned it over to something 
called the Jefferson Film Corporation, which v.'as 
oi-med by Fox. And Fox released them. There was 
alv;ays a Mutt and Jeff studio. Although it v/as run 
by different peonle. The place x-zas run by Bar re; v;hen 
he got out, it was run by 3ov;ers, who took it, and ran 
it for a while; and then the Jefferson Film Corporation 



1? 



moved in, and they ran it till it qvn t . And I kept 
vrorking for them. Ve all I'ept working for them. 

Adamson: And hov; long did the Jefferson Filir. Co. run 
the thing? 

Huemer: Oh, just a -^ew years. Nothing laste'^ very long. 

Adamson: How much money did these films make, do you 
know? 

Huemer: "''o, I don't. I don't think, they knev; either. 
There was a time when they v/ere given av/ay with features. 
It v/as a package deal. You got a feature, you got a 
newsreel, you got some other strange thing, then you 
got a cartoon. '''ery often they didn't even run the 
cartoons. If the exhibitor hated the cartoons, he didn't 
run them. That's hovr interested they v/ere. 

Adamson: So the cartoons never really caught on, like 
the comic strip. 

Huemer: Well, Hutt and Jeff didn't. I think the Fables 
caught on slightly. 3y 1920, somev/here in there, I 
think that Bray was m.aking a living and Feischer, who 
vras with Bray, started his 'Out of the Inkv;ell' around 



14 



191S. These were released in something called states' 
righting. Or I could h\v/ the rights to run that film 
in a certain state — say California, I have the rights, 
I have the film, now I can release it in any theater I 
want to. I paid a certain amount of money for that, 
so that in the 46 states you v;ere sure to at least get 
a certain amount of money, just for giving them the 
rights to run it. Then you didn't bother about it 
anymore. That was their affair, to make prints, to 
sell it, to send it around, v/hatever they wanted to do 
with it. It was kind of a precarious business. A.nd 
that v/as because there was no actual demand for these 
things. Not that people weren't thinking about imoroving 
them,. There was a guy Carl Lederer v/ho thought of 
making a feature, v.'ay back in 1919. Cinderella . This 
was going to be a beautiful thing — silent, of course. 
Many had the idea. He never completed it; he died. 
This sam.e fellov/, Carl Lederer, also had the idea of 
multi-plane, or depth in a cartoon. Ke took three 
different speeds of a bacground, moved them in different 
gradations: half-inch in the front, quarter of an inch 
farther back, and then the sky, tracing all three on 
one piece of paper, going back and laboriously tracing 



15 



so that when you used these traced pieces of paper, 
you got this effect of the speed in front, and then less 
and less in the back. There vras an amazing feeling of 
depth. We used it in Fiutt and Jeff. We used it over 
and over again; he made two, one a country scene and 
one a city scene. And they were great! But I don't 
think the audiences noticed them. In general they 
were still faintly hostile to the cartoons. 

Adamson: You v/ashed cells and used them over again 
at this time, didn't you? 

Huemer: Yes, we had to. Had to cut corners. We 
counted pencils, too. We turned back the stub of a 
pencil to get a new one. It V7as a tight operation. 
And I don't know v/hether v;e ever got vacationl I don't 
believe we ever did. Of course, v;e got a vacation at 
the end of contract time, when v/e were out of work for 
a few weeks. Without pay. And we worked half a day 
Saturday. But then everybody did in those days. As 
an animator, I made about a hundred and twenty dollars 
a week. This was around 1920, and it was a lot of 
moneyl More than a lot of my relatives made. And I 
understand that at Hearst's International, guys like 
Frank Moser did fabulously well. They told me that 



16 



he marie about 400 dollars a week just animating. But 
"he was lightning fast and could slash it out. Hearst 
had the International Studio, where he did all his 
King Features characters, like Happy Hooligan, and 
Katzen jamtrers , 'Jerry on the Job' all these things 
were done in animated cartoon form, as sort of sub- 
sidiary to the newspaper strips. 

Adamson: If it v/as such a tight operation, hov; could 
they afford to pay you all so much? 

Huemer: That's a good question, isn't it? 

Adamson: It vjould seem, because Chaplin was getting 
this unheard-of 100 dollars a v/eek in 1914. For five 
years later, that v/ould seem to be quite a stunning 
fee for animators. 

Huemer: You know, that's something I hadn*t thought 
of in all these years: how they could do it. I know 
when I worked for Fleischer, in 192 5, I was making 12 5 
dollars a week. I guess maybe they did make a go of 
it, barely. VThen I talk about counting pencils, I'm 
talking about 1915, when they were making them for 
around a thousand dollars a picture. 

Adamson: You were getting less at this time? 



17 



Huemer: About 75 dollars. Still a good salary. Of 
course, I got seven dollars a v;eek as a tracer. 

Adamson: Regardless of hov7, V7hy do you think they did 
this? They didn't need to attract people. They didn't 
need to tempt them with a large salary. 

Huemer: There vjeren't that many animators available, 
or that many people who would be interested, or even 
knev7 about the business. You'd be surorised hov/ many 
people didn't know about animated cartoons, or oaid 
any attention to them, A guy like Moser appeared 
brilliant to them.. They v/ould get crushes on people, 
a boss would, and say, 'Oh, this is the best anim.ator 
in the business, he's a wizard! Can't lose himl ' So 
they v7ould pay him a good salary. It actually happened 
to me V7ith the Fleischers. 

Adamson: VThen did you start v7orking for the Fleischers? 

Huemer: Around 192 5. 

Adamson: Is this after Mutt and Jeff? 

Huemer: Yeah. I must have had other jobs. I V7as still 
an artist. I could paint lampshades. 

Adamson: So you started v7ith the Fleischers about '25. 



IP 



Huemer: You better make that '2 3. ■ 

Adamson: All right. 

Huemer: (to tape recorder) You heard him. 

Adamson: You started with the Fleischers about '2 3. 
And they were doing what? 

Kuemer: Oh, they were doing 'Out of the Inkv/ell.' 
Koko the Clown and Kax were the only characters. Then 
we introduced other characters as protagonists. Once 
we took him to Mars, and he had Martians to contend 
with. Those were actually pretty good cartoons, I 
still believe. They were definitely to my mind a 
step above the Mutt and Jeffs. They had better stories 

Adamson: VJere the animators still making up their ov/n 
gags, or did you have a little bit more supervision? 

Huemer; Myself, I would work with Dave Fleischer. 
Max V7as the guy v;ho acted in the pictures. Dave was 
his brother and more or less the director of the 
operation. We'd get together and talk about it. The 
studio was so small that you could walk from desk to 
desk. Not like the Disney studio, where it's full 
of rooms, and where nobody ever sees anybody or talks 
to anybody. You could yell across the room, 'Hey, 



19 



Dave. I want to talk to you. Suppose v;9 do this. ' 
And then we'd sit dovjn and talk it over and laugh 
our heads off at our great gags, and then I vjould 
animate it. But, of course, we had a basic theme. 
Did you ever see the one about the fly? That's the 
surviving one that you see around a lot. A fly is 
bothering Max; v;ell, take it from there, v/hat can a 
fly do to disturb this? So it v/as very relaxed at 
Fleischer's. 

Adamson: How big a part did Max play in these cartoons? 

Huemer: He would open it, and in some trick way the 
clov/n v.'ould come out of the inkwell. Max V70uld take 
the cork off the inkvjell, or other cleverer ways, then 
Koko'd be loose, so he'd play against Max. He'd squirt 
ink at him, v/hatever the gags were. Then in the end 
he always v/ent back into the inkwell, and Max put the 
cork back on. A circular effect, to complete the 
thing. 

Adamson: VJhat vrould you say was the m.ajor reason 
for these cartoons being better than the others? 

Huemer: They had more interesting ideas, for one 
thing. They had live action, which is understandable 



20 



right av.'ay. Here is r-'ax, a live person that they got 
to like after a v/hile. Max was not a great actor or 
comedian, but at least, if you saw a few of them, you 
got to know hirn, ancl you were sympathetic to his 
troubles. Another thing they did v/as something they 
called Rotoscope. They did that right from the very 
start. Dave Fleischer would put on a clov;n suit, 
and they would photograph him; and then they v;ould 
take those photographs and work over them. A sim.ple 
process, but it gave astonishingly lifelike action. 
Incidentally, .VcCay's action was very lifelike, too, 
in some of his early cartoons, v;hich v/as am.azing, 
because he didn't use Rotoscope. Ke didn't base it 
on any live action. He did a little thing about Nemo, 
vrhich was very natural, really very beautiful anim.ation. 
It's surprising, because he did that before anybody 
else, and then in between that time and v;hen Disney 
came along, there was a lot of this raunchy-looking 
stuff — not good drav/ing or action. McCay hit a high 
peak at the very start, after which quality went 
down and then came up again when Disney entered the 
picture. 

Adamson: VJinsor KcCay didn't use the inbetween system, 



21 



did he? He would go straight from one drav/ing to the 
next. 

Huemer: That's right. We found that out at a banquet 
V7e gave in 1928. It v;as called the Animators' Banquet, 
We invited him, and he was the guest of honor. 

Adamson: You didn't do this every year, did you? 

Huemer: No, they wouldn't let us because after vze 
were through the owner of the hotel says, 'Rausl — 
and don't come backl ' The last I saw the night of the 
brawl was somebody trying to kick off the chandelier. 
Anyvv'ay KcCay got up and he had. a few under his belt, 
as we all did — there v;ere only about thirty of us, 
that's all there was in the business, in those days. 

Adamson: McCay was a sober, tim.id sort of person, 
wasn't he? 

Huemer: Well, he wasn't sober this night. He got 
up and he said, 'Novj I'm going to put you fellows 
V7ise to something that I've just discovered,' he says, 
'Instead of v/orking straight ahead, which makes it 
hard to know where you're going in animation, why 
don't you take dravring no.l, and then look ahead and 
make drawing no. 5; and nov/ look, you can put drawings 



22 



no, 2, 3, an-il 4 right in "betv/eenl ' He was telling 
us about the inhetween systeml Of course, we res- 
pected him so much that nobody said, 'Aw, come off 
it, v;e've been doing it since 1915. ' So that's hov7 
we knov7 that he must have animated straight ahead. 

Adamson: So you v/ere doing the inbetv/een system from, 
the time you started? 

Huemer : Oh, yeah. And we wouldn't let anybody touch 
our inbetvzeens. We had no inbetv/eeners , It v;as 
pretty important that we did all this ourselves. It 
was too precious to let some jerk come in who maybe 
didn't knov7 how to draw, and monkey with your stuff. 
As a matter of fact, for the record, in all modesty, 
I'm the first one to use inbetv/eeners. And it cam^e 
about when I was v/orking for the Fleischers. They — 
poor fellows — liked my v/ork so well that they said, 
•Why don't you do more of it? I mean by ha'^'^ing some- 
one do the inbetweens?' And my first impulse was 
•Oh, yeah?' 'I will, like belli' Then, being basically 
a very lazy fellow, I thought, ''-Jhy not?' So, 
^ta^H^BririlHB^^ll^HA Art Davis was assigned to m.e , 

Adamson: Is inbetweening invariably tedious? 



23 



Huemer: well, it's not creative, '^ou don't c'are he 
creative about inbetv/eening. The "xtre'res create the 
action, the moo'i , or v/hatever you want to put over the 
point. Did the spacing, too. 

Adanson: "-Tere you satisfied with his work? 

Huemer: Oh, fine. Didn't knov/ the difference. 

Adamson: I"/hat percentage of the drawings did he end 
up doing? 

Huemer: x^bout seventy-five, ^'Je exposed our o\-7n anination, 
right on the paper. We didn't even have exposure sheets. 
Ve drew down in the corner. Suppose you had. somebody 
repeating an action, v.'e'd say, 'R and R'--reoeat and 
reverse — 'five times stopping on 8,' then you go ahead. 
Of course when sound came along, you have to have ex- 
posure sheets. 

This is an am.using incident that explains hov; 
careful we were in drawing our things when we v;orked 
in pen and ink v;ith Gilott pen points — they had to be 
Gilott's 290 's, these famous English pen points. Som.e 
guy was anim.ating an explosion and he noodled uo this 
drawing of smoke and things breaking, and ever^'thing; 
and he made such a beautiful drawing of one of these 



24 



new inbetweens that he he Id it for five exposures , Ke 
couldn't stand having the thing go through, in one ex- 
posure, as it should have. His work of art rp.ight have 
been missed! I could tell you his name, but he's a 
friend of rnin^. The inking techniques were very inter- 
esting, some cpjys were very good. You'd put shading 
on the leg that was behind the other one, if you wanted 
to. We did the clovjn in the rip and slash system, 
which is cutting c/apers out to fit over each other — 
like a puzzle. !'7e used to noodle up closeuos of the 
clown's head v/ith shading all around the eyes, and 
everything. ^^'e used a very hea^/^' outline in those days; 
very, very thick outline, all around the figure. That 
was because in the printing and de-"eloning of the film 
if we didn't have a heavy outline, very often, it would 
bleed out. So it wasn't just an affectation, it was 
necessary to do it. 

The Fleischers only usyd ooaque cells when the 
clown worked over a photograph. Say he was on the desk. 
Then he V70uld be--as we do today--on an opaque cell. 
Of course, he v/as just black and white; v7hitc--^aced , 
black suit. Didn't use any grays that I can rem.em.ber. 
Rotoscope Vr.s he-/ he combined, the cartoon with live 
action. First, he had a camera above and belov; a 



2 5 



glass plate, with pegs; a projection machine was below 
that shooting i.ip, and a camera was shooting do^-jn. First 
he made a matte of the clov/n. This was used for putting 
cartoon with live action, putting them, on the same film. 
They were a pretty inventive bunch, the Fleischers. The 
bouncing ball thing was invented by them, the idea of 
bouncing a ball on v;ords. They got an old-fashioned 
washing machine, and lettered the lines of the song, 
white letters on black, and then tacked it on this 
round drum. Then they covered the v/hole thing black, 
and V7hen they turned the drum a line v/ould come into 
the opening of a slit and go dov/n, and then the next 
line would come. Then, they had a black pointer v/ith 
a v/hite dot on the end, so that v/hen the line moved 
in — you never saw where it came from — then the pointer 
would go, dee-dee~dee-dee-dee-dee . You didn't see the 
pointer because it was black against black. You sav/ 
the V7hite ball: it looked as though the v.'hite ball was 
jumping from word to v/ord . 

Adamson: This v;asn't an animiated white ball? 

Huemer: No, nol It was done this v;ay, v/ith a pointer. 
Filmed in live actionl The pointer doesn't photograph 
because it's black. They never let the pointer go in 



26 



front of the letters. It's going above the letters. 
They'd knock it off in no time at all. The first one 
they made was called 'Oh, f-'abel,' and I animated it. 
It v/as a song slightly oopular at the time: 'Neath your 
window I am waiting. Oh, Mabell '--something to that 
effect. I V70uld animate the lines in, and I had a little 
figure jumping to accent: 'Neath-your-v;in-dow-I-am- 
waiting' — and she'd jump back as the next line came in — 
•Oh.,.' and ride along; the thing rode along in panorama. 
And v/e did strange things. We'd turn words into funny 
objects and we'd explode words. They'd drift down, 
grow, shrink, other characters would com.e in and chase 
them off. I didn't do the bouncing ball, that v/as 
always the chorus. I just did the verse. The verse 
V7as always some figure animated that was appropriate, 
like 'In the shade of the old apple tree' and the word 
would animate up into a tree. They were v/hite on 
black, but they v/ere negative. '-Je'd have to make a 
black face so that v/hen it was reversed it would be 
a white face. Then the letters, being black, would 
come out white. It was so successful that when they 
ran 'Oh, Habel' at the Circle Theater, in Colum.bus 
Circle, New York, it brought down the house, it stopped 
the show. They applauded and stamped and v/histled into 



27 



the following picture, vhich they finally stopped, air^ 
tooV off, and put back the 'Ch, Mabel* cartoon again. 
They ran it again to the delight of the audience. I 
always say that was an indication of v/hat sound v/ould 
someday do for the animated cartoon, because it v/as a 
sound idea. The use of sound combined v/ith action even 
though the audience supplied the sound, nevertheless, 
it partook of that feeling. They sang their little 
hearts out. It was very successful. With Mutt and Jeff 
v/e did something called 'Sound your A' in v;hich Kutt and 
Jeff appeared on the screen, and seemed to talk to Max 
Manny, the drummer of the Strand Theater, whose idea it 
was. He stood, up in a spotlight in the orchestra, and 
he'd say, ";''ell, Kutt, how are things today?' And then 
the character v;ould seem to look dov/n at him, and a 
balloon would com.e up and say, 'Fine.' They played 
back and forth, and this, again, was, in a sense fore- 
shadov/ing v/hat sound would do someday. It was very, 
very successful. This iv'as the most successful Mutt 
and Jeff. 

Adamson: This was som.ething like what McCay did with 
'Gertie the Dinosaur,' now, v;asn't it? 

Huemer: Right. 



28 



Adamson: Was there great similarity betv;een your v/ork; 
and other animators' v/ork? Or vras the difference im- 
perceptible enough, since they v;ere using the same 
techniques? 

Huemer: Within a picture, say there were three animators 
doing it, you would have to look very closely to tell 
the difference in animators' drawings. But you could 
tell, instantly, \vhether it v/as a Terrytoon, or a Fleischer, 
or a Kutt and Jeff, or a Felix the Cat. At least I could, 
I imagine audiences could too, if they cared. They were 
stamped, they were individual. Always the same way of 
doing it. 

Adamson: So that your work took on a different look 
when you changed studios. 

Huem.er: That's right. Even though you retained a little; 
you couldn't help doing things certain ways. But audiences 
were never aware of anything like that. Even to us there 
wasn't much. Of course, I knew my own v/ork, I could tell 
mine in a minute. I sav; an old Mutt and Jeff cartoon 
that I'd worked on, and I could tell my own work. This 
was one that was done v;hen we had a little outfit called 



29 



the Associatod Aninators, and all v;e would need \-jonl6 
be the inkers and the painters of the cells--by this 
time most cartoons were done in the opaque system. 
We were the first cooperative in the animation business. 
It was myself, Burt Gillette, Ben Harrison, Manny Gould-- 
and v/e decided to be both the owners and animators; we 
wouldn't need a staff; we v/ould save all that m.oney. 
Finally we went to Mutt and Jeff or rather Bud Fisher's 
attorney and got the rights to do the Mutt and Jeffs 
again. They had lapsed for a v;hile. We did a number 
of these, and I saw one just the other day: it v/asn't 
too bad. Incidentally, we couldn't make any m.oney. 
It v/asn't a successful operation. Besides, I think 
Mutt and Jeff v/as fading away, and Bud Fisher withdrew 
his financial support, and that ended it. That was the 
end of Mutt and Jeff. 

Adamson: As animation advances, from about 1910 into 
the thirties, there V7as less and less appearance of 
human figures, and animals began to take over. 

Huemer : Well, animals were alvrays very popular, because 
when you do something with an animal, it's unconscious 
satire. And it seemed to be more s^Tapathetic. Even 



30 



Disney v/ent to animals. He had this ]ittle girl, 
remember the Alice cartoons. And, of course, Terry 
had the Farmer Alfalfa character in his, but all the 
rest v/as animals. Animals were very successful. They 
always v/ere. 

Adamson; Farmer Alfalfa v/as more or less just a stooge 
for a lot of cats and mice, as I remember. 

Huemer: That's right. Alice was sort of a stooge too. 

Then the animation business was looking very shaky 
to me, and I decided to get out of it. I drew a comic 
strip called 'Good-Time Guy' for the Metropolitan Nev/s 
paper service, vrhich ran for about a year or two. It 
was a people-tyoe strip. The guy v;ho did 'Ella Cinders' 
Bill Conselman wrote it, and I drev; it. Well that folded 
too. Then I went back to the Fleischers. I was with 
them in 1929 v/hen the crash occurred. I can remember 
it, crashing. 

Adamson: Did this affect you very seriously? 

Huemer: Not personally, no. I didn't own any stock. 
I didn't understand it. 'nTio did? The animation industry 
looked awfully bad, at that time. Disney, of course, 
had already entered the field, and had done som.e Oswalds. 



?1 



They were far sunerior to anything anybody had done, in 
my estimation. And we, me, Harrison and Gould, used 
to go seek them out, find out v/here they v/ere running 
and study them. And, bad as they look today--(and I've 
seen them recently, and they are pretty bad) — they were 
tremendously superior to our things. That was our 
opinion as craftsmen of the business. I v;as v/ith 
Fleischer again v/hen sound broke on the scene; and 
the 'Skeleton Dance' took New York by storm, and na- 
turally everything went to sound. 

Adamson: And you v/ent to Columbia. 

Huemer: That's right, v/e did Scrapoy and Toby the Pup. 
That's the first thing we did, Toby the Pup. Sort of 
a nondescript little character. A black little beast, 
that v/alked on its hind legs, and had a big m.oo of 
black hair. A vreird dog- like thing with long ears. 

Adamson: Was he sym,pathetic? tVho created him? 

Huemer: Sid Ilarcus created him. He and I came out 
to start the series. We left Fleischers together. 
Kintz moved to California, and we went with him, and 
started Toby the Pup. Mintz also brought out Harrison 



32 



and Gould to continue I'razy P'at, vjhich they had been 
doing. They ran concurrently. 

The Fleischers naturally joined the gold rush 
after Disney's stunning success v/ith his first sound 
cartoons. Their first v/as a Popeye short cartoon v/ith 
a Noah's ark theme. I'm under the im>-^ression that some 
of the dialogue was not prescored. Their ov/n original 
method, of synchronizing cartoon and sound was the in- 
vention of George P.ufle, who was one of their animators, 
It consisted of photographing a bouncing ball, attached 
to the bottom of a baton which occupied the space at 
the left side of the film reserved normally for the 
sound track. In effect, this acted as a metronome 
and could be ohotographed to provide any desired beat, 
more particularly, the ones established and deter- 
mined in advance by the anim.ation itself. At the 
recording session, the m.usical director had only to 
watch the baton going up and down in the oreem.Dted 
sound track soace and guide his orchestra accordingly. 
Musicians and vocalists also carefully v;atched the 
cartoon to add their sound effects and dialogues. It 
was the answer to previous and haphazard methods of 
synchronization such as having a flov^er which had 
nothing whatever to do with the action -wag back and 



33 



forth in thf corner of the scene for the musical director 
to vjatch. 

As far as I know the Popeyes hit it off very v;ell, 
and after them came Betty Boon, and a revival of Koko 
in the Song Cartune setting--all v;ith sound, of course. 
But I V7as long gone from the Fleischers by then, I 
spent three years v^ith the Charles F-Untz outfit and 
established myself v;ith the studio of my choice-Disney's. 
Apropos of the great popularity of the Poreye cartoons, 
there's a story that corcerrs 'i^alt Disney v/hile he v;aG on 
one of his trips to South Am.erica. I wasn't on the 
trip. Joe Grant and I had been left behind to finish 
up Dumbo . 

Ani'way it was at som.e big social function the 
locals vjerc throwing to honor their famous visitor. 
Most of the crov.-d were English. The typical kind. All 
evening long as 'Jalt danced, som.e guy would give the 
famous V7ink, in -massing him on the dance floor and 
nod knovringly. Then he would give the Popeye 'Beep 
Beep* and whirl away with his partner, satisfied no 
doubt that he knew he had shov/n Disney that he v/as 
aware of a thing or t'-jo about vrhat was what in cartoons. 
It's hard to blame the poor guys, since actually, the 



34 



great in^ijority of Doople of the worlcf orobably thought 
that Disney was the only one v.'ho m3(?e animated cartoons, 

Technical item: VThen I came to the Kutt and Jef'^ 
studio in 191<= they vrere already using the Too Peg 
system of registry. Before that they had used various 
different ways of keeping the drawings in register. 
One way was to have a number of pinholes on each sheet 
of animation paper at the ton. These coincided ex- 
actly with relative holes in the animation board . The 
animator nut the oins, ordinary straight pins, through 
the paper and into the holes and also under the camera. 
It v/orked until the peg system came along. Another 
strange deviation from com.mcn procedure vras that Paul 
Terry and also his brother John Terry did, all their 
animation on transparent tissue paner. Everybody 
else, as far as I know used the so-called Light Boards 
and regular paper. After all, how can you flip tissue 
paper? 

Let me tell you the story that I've told many 
times, about what people thought of the business at 
first. '-Jhen we opened our second !-:utt and Jeff studio 
in Fordham., we were in the Fordham Arcade. And down 
below on the street level, there was this tailor, 
who had a small shoo that we animators patronized. 



35 



He v/as just burning un with curiosity about v;hat we 
fellows were doing upstairs. 'We were in this loft 
that was meant for light manufacturing, and he couldn't 
figure it out. "•7hat are you boys doing up there?' he 
persisted. And we explained, "".-.■'e ' re making animated 
Dictures,' or at least v;e tried to explain ... and finally 
I said one day, "'ell, come on up, f-'r. Pincus, or what- 
ever his name was. I'll show you v/hat we're doing.' 
And one day svire enough, he apoeared at the door, hat 
in hand. I took him in tov? and lead him around, from 
board to board. I flipped drawings. I shov;ed him 
the instructions, hov; we did it., .as much as you can 
explain it. Even today you can't do it much different, 
you knovr, it's still miuch the same orinciole. Well, I 
showed him everything, and he just stood there, shifting 
from foot to foot ... occasionally he'd go, 'Tsk, tsk, tsk,' 
or 'hmnm.. * Never a word. I thought m.aybe he v/asn't 
listening. Finally, it was all dene, I said, 'Well? 
VThat do you think, Mr. Pincus?' And he said, 'Tell 
me... from this , you are making a living ? ' And that 
would be a good title for a book about this period, 
'From This You Are Making a Living. ' It was all com- 
pletely incomprehensible to him. Same as the vrord 
'anim.ation. ' It didn't mean anything at all to peoole. 



36 



As far as sotte oeople knew, it meant mating animals. 

Adamson: Give us an idea what the studio looked like. 

Huemer: The Barre studio was in an enormous bare 
loft, about a hundred feet by about seventy-five, , . 
without any breaks .. .V7e 11, yes, at one end there v/as 
a v;all for an office. The studio oart had these long 
benches, with room for three or four light boards on 
each side, facing each other. 

Adamson: Light boards... 

Huemer: Well, that's what v;e called the animation 
boards. There was a long shelf in the middle, on v;hich 
you could put your drav;ings, and which separated you 
from the g\iy on the other side--to whom you could 
talk through these shelves. And there v/ere about twelve 
of these units, standing right in the middle of the room.. 
Twelve of these benches or tables, containing about, oh, 
eight places for animators — which was far more than 
were needed when Barre set the place up. He never filled 
it. At no tim.e v/as it ever completely filled. We only 
occuoied, well, maybe, four rov/s of these boards for 
tracers and animators. Then there v;as a camera from 
Barre which occupied another room to the side. The 



37 



loft v;as very bleak and it vas very cold in the vinter. 
The heating was totally inadequate. We often had to 
go home, because our fingers got stiff from cold. 
That v;as v/hen the oil heaters no longer helped. We 
had these little oil heaters that stood around on the 
floor. They don't exist anymore, but v;e had therp in 
those days before little electric heaters. 

Adamson: Like smudge pots? 

Huemer: Well, excent that they didn't smudge. There 
was a little tank on the bottom, v/ith a rovmd cylinder, 
where the heat cam.e from — no, they were clean enough. 
I guess it vras kerosene oil they burned or som.ething 
that didn't make a smudge. The I'/hole studio was very 
bare looking. 

Adam.son: Mo drav/ings hanging on the v;alls, or anything? 

Huemer: Oh, no ref inem.ents , no, indeed. No curtains 
or carpets. We had bare board flooring. 

Adamson: Mo, I mean like sketches. 

Huem.er: They couldn't affort it. No. 

Adamson; ■.-fhat did you do with your old drav/ings after 
you had made your little films? 



39 



Huemer: They were alv/ays throv/n av/ay, 

Adamson: Just throvm av;ay. . . 

Huemer: Oh, sure. You couldn't draw on the other side 
of the oaper, could you? 

Adamson: Even though you. did save the cells... 

Huemer: As I say, we saved them and v/ashed them. That 
was a regular joh for somebody, to be continually v/ash- 
ing cells. A Mrs. Malloy did that. That wasn't too 
easy to do either. The in^ stuck to the cells. /7e 
had to use ammonia and one thing and another. Mo, the 
older studios were pretty bare, just utilitarian. 

Adamson: Hov; did the Fleischers loo'<:7 

Huemer: Same idea. Only v'alt Disney definitely too''< 
pride in the aooearance of his studio. Hade beautiful 
desks, nice furniture, landscaped the grounds, had full- 
time gardeners all over the place. Well, he had the 
money. We didn't have the m.oney for that. Not in 
those pioneer days. 

Adamson: Well, it's also a matter of care. Out of one 
room you have several hundred drawings com.e out every 



39 



day. Very often, in the places I've seen, they'll take 
a cell and a background, and over, lay them over, and 
then just put them up on the wall. 

Huemer: No, v/e never did that. 

Adamson: Never bothered v/ith that. 

Huemer: Well, as a matter of fact, they weren't that 
good . 

Adamson: I see. 

Huemer: They (the Fleischers) started with Popeye just 
as soon as sound became obligatory. 

Adamson: Do you know v;hy they picked him ud? 

Huemer: Sure. It was a good property because Fopeye 
was the most popular comic strip at that tim.e. 

Adamson: Like Mutt and Jeff. 

Huemer: Yeah, sure. It was a very big feature (news- 
oaper that is). It was quite a plum to have. If you 
should happen to see one of the old Pooeyes you may 
notice that there is never a quiet moment--in the 
dialogue, that is. Dialogue that is crucial to the 
story will be worked out and synched to action. But 



40 



in betv/een there is a constant stream of mutterin7, often 
unintelligible. But it v/as very effective, a device to 
keep the thing alive. Yes, sound did v/onders for the 
animated cartoon, There'd be none without sound, I 
don't think. Certainly very little public acceptance. 

Adamson: Killed off the tv/o-reel comedy, at the same 
time. 

Kuemer: Yeah, and a good thing. 

Adamson; VThy? 

Huemer: I don't know. T didn't care for them. 

Adamson: ''Then did you start noticing them? 

Huemer: I'm sure it was around 1914. Chaplin did 
something called His Mew Job . This was the first one 
of his pictures that I ever saw. It just flattened m.e. 
It just killed me. And everybody else too. Suddenly 
everybody was talking Chaplin. 

Adamson: This is the one moving the piano. 

Huemer: I don't know what, even what it was about. 

Adam.son: You remember the titlei 



41 



Huemer; Yes, that v/as the title: His Fov; Job . 

Adamson: Would you say this had any effect on v/hat 
you v;ere doing? 

Huemer: You mean, did we imitate Chanlin? 

Adamson: Not imitate exactly. 

Huemer: The only one v/ho was ever really influenced 
by Chaplin v;as Walt. He just couldn't get him out of 
his system, you knov^. He thought of Mickey Mouse 
actually as a little Chaplin. Not that he walked like 
him or looked like him, but Walt kept the feeling of 
this little droll kind of pathetic little character, 
who was always being picked on. But cleverly com.ing 
out on top anyway. Other people influenced Walt, too, 
Douglas Fairbanks, and other outstanding performers. 
Walt had a wonderful gift of adapting things that 
were good and changing them so that you couldn't 
recognize them. Actually making them better. 

As far back as 1915, v;hen I cam.e to the Mutt and 
Jeff studio, they vzere trying to improve their animation, 
/Then I got there, they v;ere all talking about a bit of 
animation done by a chap named Rigby, which has tv;o 
goats, butting each other or something. 3y today's 
standards it's less than nothing, but this was con- 



^32 



sider'^'5 so great, v;hen I cane there. Rigby was the 
studio hero for a few vieeks . This was l'51(=^. And then 
around 191^, Albert Hurter, v.'ho did such great v7ork at 
Disney's later on, had to d rav; an American flag; and he 
looked out the window, saw a flag, and, wonder of 
v7onders, he actually copied the movement — studied it 
and cooied it. Something which nobody had done before. 
If you had done a flag before, you would take three 
drawings and have it merely sort of vibrate. But he 
analyzed the action, and its folds, etcetera. He was 
such a magnificent artistl And when this scene cam.e 
out, v^e just thovight, 'This is the endl The living end I 
This is the greatestl ' In other words we v/eren't blind 
to improvem.ent. As a matter of fact, another thing 
done at this tim.e, vrhich '^alt also did later, v/as what 
Barre--or Bowers, one or the other — instituted, art 
classes. '-Je ^-/ould cone back at night to study the 
human form,. Self-imnrovement , so that we drew better. 
Another Disney precept. The studio would hire a model 
to come to pose for us. And. thereby hangs a tale, '■-■^e 
had this nude m.odel posing for us one night, and Vet 
Anderson who used to draw for Puck and Life (they called 
him. Vet because he was a veteran of the Spanish-Am.erican 
V?ar)used. to keep his tobacco loose in his pocket, and 



43 



fill his oipe by dipping it in the pocket full of tobacco, 
We vrere all drawing one night this nude model when, all 
of a sudden, she, gi^^'ing no exclamation, stalked off 
the platform and left the room. V7e looked at each 
other wondering, "-'hat's the matter?' So one of us ran 
after her asking, ''.-fhat's wrong?' And she said, 'That 
manl...with the red' face. ""Thy is he leering so evilly?' 
Nov; this v;as his habitual expression when he con- 
centrated. Vet alvrays smiled any^vay. But she thought 
he V7as leering, enjoying her nakedness. But we did 
have art classes, and we did, as I say, study the nen 
techniques of Heinrich Kley and other oeoole. '/Je 
thought Opoer of Happy Hooligan fame was a fine draught- 
sman. Gibson was the greatest pen and ink man, of 
course. Who could im.itate him? 

A-damson: You didn't stay at Fleischers' long after 
sound came in. 

Huemer: Well, I v;as in and out of Fleischers' several 
times. I left to go into the Associated Animators — 
a com.oany I helned form. Then I cam.e back again. Then 
I left to do my comic strio. Then I cam.e back once 
more. And then I left to go v;ith Charlie Mintz. The 
last tim.e I left T'.ax said, 'All right now, this is the 



44 



last time you're gonna leavel ' He cljdn't r'-ally mean 
it. He V7as a lovely guy. I lovecl '■'ax. He said, 'That's 
a fine thing, leaving me... that's the last time you're 
gonna do it to me. ' Ben Sharps teen had been toiJting 
roe to Walt Disney. (There was only ahout ten or tv/elve 
of us animators in the vjorld, you know, and I v/as one 
of them.) And v/hen ''7a It Disney cam.e to Mew York or, 
a business trip he looked me up with the idea of get- 
ting m.e to work for him. T invited him to dinner. He 
didn't know Ne'^.' York, and I took him to a --^lace called 
The Chili Villa, which even to this day T think serves 
the finest 'Mexican food I've ever eaten. Sim'oly ^.ag- 
nificent. I took VJalt and his v;ife Lily there to talk 
things over. It was understood right away that I would 
consider v/orking for him., even before v;e v;ent to dinner. 
But T wasn't sure. He said, 'Yes, let's talk an^^'^/'ay. ' 
So we went to Chili Villa or\ 45th Street. And all 
through the m.eal I don't think '^'alt addressed five 
words to me. He sat and brooded, and ate this heavenly 
food, and never said anything about hov7 great it was, 
or much of anything else. So I spoke mostly to his 
wife. And I thought, 'This is cer'^.ainly a strange guy. 
I mean nobody has ever done this to me in my life. ' 
'•'ell, later I found out that he v/as in vary deeo trouble. 



45 



an^ was brooding. He had some spriou? set-'bacT^. So'^.ething 
about the business end of it, I thirk. '^''hat's why he'd 
come to New York. So that was my strange introduction 
to Walt Disney. I finally agreed to work for him, but 
a day later I got a better offer from^ ?-'intz and decided 
to take that. vThen I called. Walt up and told him, there 
V7as silence for a while. Finally he said, '-/ell, okay, 
but you'll be very sorry. ' And I v/as. Because I should 
have gone with him right then and there. I would have 
had a better time, and I'd have enjoyed v7orking in the 
business v/ith a real genius. Although I must say the 
money he offered wasn't nearly comparable to v.'hat Mintz 
was going to pay me. 

Adamson: Really? '-"Thy v.'as that? 

Huemer: Well, I guess riintz thought I V7as that good. 
He offered me a percentage cut besides. 

Adamson: 'Then v.-as this first meeting with Walt? 

Huemer: 1930. So, then I v/ent to Fintz. And stayed 
until 19 33. '^'hen Mintz tried to cut our salaries during 
the depression we went on strike. And so I left Mintr.. 
Instead of going on strike though, I v;ent over to Disney's 
at last. I had regretted turning him dov/n as he had 



46 



precl icteri , • ■ ■ 

Adamson: But vjas there that much difference in salary? 

Huemer: There wars quite a come-dovrn in salary — almost 
half. Walt was not one for oaying big salaries at 
that time. 

Adamson: Mintz v/as? 

Huemer: Well, P'-intz was simply because I had the reputation 
of being one of the m.en he badly needed to start a new 
series. He underpaid the rest of the staff besides. 

Adamson: 'That v;as it like, working for Mintz? 

Huemer: Oh, fine. In a vzay you did what you pleased. 
He didn't know -what was going on. He didn't care. 
He wasn't really interested much in the oictures. He 
iv/as just a promoter, he bankrolled it. You couldn't ever 
do anything vjithout a release and his big job v/as to 
wrangle that with Columbia and RI'O. 

Adamson: Oh, I see. 

Huemer: Mintz was a businessman. He had nothing to do 
with the creation of it. He left it up to me and Sid 
Marcus. For Toby and Serappy and Krazy Kat v;as done 



47 



by Gould and Harrison. They handled it to suit themselves. 
Sid r:arcus and I directed and did the stories. But we 
also had to animate at the same time. Once you'd laid 
the picture out, and timed it, V7hy, there v/asn't much 
else but to animate it. VJe were still our best anim.ators, 
certainly better than any neophytes V7e could hire. Harrison 
and Gould did the sane. They animated most of their 
Krazy Kats . 

Adamson: Did you have inbetweeners now? 

Huem.er: Yes, we did. ''7e had everything. 

Adamson: And inkers and oainters? 

Huemer: Yep. We used the opaque cell system which 
had been universal for a long time now. 

Adamson: And pre-recorded sound? 

Huemer; Yes. 

Adamson: So, you're pretty sophisticated by this 
time. 

Huemer: Yes, we were comparable to all the other studios. 
After I left Mintz, they went on for m>any years doing 



AO 



Krazt rat mostly. My leaving didn't ruin them. 

Adamson: vThat did you think of what you turned out at 
this time? 

Huemer: Not much. Some of them v/ere all right. But 
they didn't compare to Disney's cartoons. Let's put 
it that way. 

Adamson: ■■Jell, v/ithout taking Disney into account 5 

did you find them, going over better than what you'd done 

before? 

Kuemer: I'm. afraid they didn't do much better at all, 
Not in my opinion. They v.'eren't in color, Walt did 
the first color cartoon: ' Flowers and Trees. ' '.Then 
I came to Disney's, they had already finished several 
cartoons. They had done 'Flowers and Trees,' which was 
the first 'Silly Sym.ohony' and they v;ere just finishing 
Three Little Pias , which I didn't work on, '.'rhich, as 
you know, V7as a sm.asheroo. 

Adamson: Did Scrappy m.ake a r:>rofit for the studio? 

Huemer: I couldn't tell you that. It's my impression 



49 



though that cartoons again were ^'■ictims of block booking. 
They gave th';? cartoons a'vay with their features. One of 
those things. 

Ada.T.son: 3o the audiences weren't that concerned about 
the product. 

Huemer: Not much I guess. It wasn't like Disney, where 
they demanded Mickey Mouses — remember the slogan, ''Jhat-- 
no Mickey Mousel ' There v.'as nothing like that v;ith 
Scrappy or Krazy Mat. The peoole laughed a little. But 
not like at Disney's pictures, which were belly-laughs. 
No, Disney brought careful planning, in every ohase of 
the making of an animated cartoon. Careful olanning and 
meticulous attention to detail, and ideas, and gags, gags, 
gags! I mean he was his own best gag man. Had the 
best gag mind I ever ran across. 

Em OF INTERVIEV7 



50 



TAPE NUMBER ONE: SIDE T^'O 



Hue^ier: One whole incicient starter! v/hen I drew great 
big teeth on Koko, something the Fleischers never had 
done up to that tirr.e. '.''ell, Dave started kidding me 
about it, baring his teeth at me every time I looked at 
him. Or he would draw an enormous tooth on m.y drawing 
paper when my back was turned. Then finally one night 
on cy way hom.e, I out my hand into my Docket and fished 
out a handful of teeth. Human ones. He'd gotten them 
froa a dentist friend of his. I forget what my next 
move wa.s — probably slir^ning one or tv70 into his dessert 
at lunch, or somte other disgusting thing. And then came 
the morning V7hen I raised my drav/ing board to switch 
on the light and my hand touched something slim.y. There 
draced over the light bulb was the lov.'er half of a cow's 
jaw, replete v/ith great big yellov; teeth and shreds of 
unhealthy- looking flesh. Naturally I couldn't let him 
quit while he was ahead. So I sneaked down to the 
street when he wasn't looking and placed the cadaver 
on the motor of his Ford. I was only sorry I wasn't 
there when he started to smiell roast beef on his way 
home. That kind of ended the whole rib. Neither of 



us coulci find a to'^oer after that. Although thirty yf^ars 
later, when I met Dave accidentally in a theatre lobby, 
the first thing he did v;as to make big teeth at me. 

Did I tell you the trick with the stuffed dates? 
There was alv;ays a good deal of horsenlay in those r?re- 
historic animation studios. There was this guy who was 
an irritating kind of character. He v;aG quite hard of 
hearing, and v7ore the first hearing aid I had ever seen 
up to that time, but I guess he was just naturally un- 
lovable. Am.ong other odd things (he V7as also a coet) 
was his devotion to health foods. He bro\ight all sorts 
of uncon-^'-entioanl foodstuffs for lunch. Ke v;as carticular- 
ly addicted to stuffed dates, that is, dates stuffed v/ith 
chopped nuts and raisins and things. One day while he 
was out of the room, we took his stuffed dates, rem.oved 
the filling, and substituted a mixture of our own — 
mostly tobacco. Th'='n v;e all waited at lunchtime for the 
big horselaugh. 77ould you believe it? He picked them 
UD and ate them alll 'vithout even making a facel '.^ere 
we frustrated. The only conclusion I could come to v/as 
that he v;as hard of tasting as well as hearing. 

At the Hutt and Jeff studio, George Foster was 
our chamipion ribber. His favorite trick was to get hold 
of som.e nev7com,er to the studio who was all eaaer to learn 



S2 



the business, and GIV^ him the business, George was the 
oldest of the anirpators — thirty five, T think, but that 
was old for our nevr industry. He had gray hair and this 
mock TX5ntifical manner of speaking. He would sell the 
poor gijy on the idea of something called "still life 
animation. * The im.portance of it, that you had to 
learn it before you, could animate. He invented all 
sorts of strange v^ords and gimmicks. In regular art 
in those days, one first concentrated on still life 
before tackling the hum.an figure. Well, this v;as the 
sam.e basis for learning how to animiate; you had to first 
study still life anim.ation and that was his gag. Until 
the kid finally caught on to it. 

I told you about how 3ov;ers bought an interest 
in the business. I think he out in about three thousand 
dollars, which gave him a part ov/nershio. 



3owers V7as a 
very talented man. He didn't have to be a renegade, 
which he was. He claim.ed to be som.e kind of an ex- 
circus performer. And always told us tall tales, 
about VTalking across tightropes high o'^'er a street. 



s? 



He said with an oil stove in each hancl , the kind v;e 
used in the stu5io. Both burning, yet. And once 
that he had been run over by a v/agon, in the desert. 
But the sard v/as so soft that it left his impression 
in the ground and didn't hurt hin^. at alll T mean that's 
the kind of guy he v;as. With it all, he v/as a very 
brilliant political cartoonist ... worked for the N£wa_rk 
News . He came to Disney's in the 19 30's with a film 
he'd made, trying to get Walt's backing. Incidentally, 
it v;as an idea he had stolen from Barre. If you look 
at an old Barre cartoon you'll see this gag of a chicken 
laying eggs and little automobiles hatching out, all 
because it was scared by an automobile or something. 
Bower's crib of Barre 's idea was done, however, in 
live action — stop motion. And it was really quite good. 

Adam.son: ''rTho m.ade the automobliles? 

Huemer: He did all of it, I imagine. He put the whole 
thing together, 'There it is now, I don't know. But 
any^vay vrhen Walt asked me about him, I told him v;hat 

he'd done to poor old Barre, 
and v:hat an all-around unreliable sort of a guy he was. 
So Walt said, 'Thank you,' and that washed out the v/hole 



54 



deal. And that was my revenge 1 

Adamson: Hos? old v;as he? 

Huemer: That's the strange thing. ^■'obody knov/sl He 
was one of those nen who could be any age. He was 
vrrinVled and yet he v.'asn't, and he v/as vital, and 
actually you couldn't tell. This v.'as one of the big 
puzzles about him. How old was Eowers?--used to be 
one of the gags. Nobody ever found out. And he 
vrauldn't tell anybody. It's my impression though 
that he v-asn't very young. At that time he must have 
been say in his forties--which was old for the business 
then because v/e were m.ostly in our twenties. Did I 
tell you about hov; he conned som.ebody out of some 
m.oney, and when the sucker came to collect it, and he 
started, arguing v^ith Bowers. And the g'jy picked uo 
a blotter on which there was an Am.erican flag, and 
in his anger threw it down on the ground, not knowing 
what he was doing, and Bowers yelled, 'Stool You know 
what you've done? You ought to be asham.ed of yourself. 
The Am.erican flagl You've desecrated Old Glor'^'. ' It 
v;as during the vrar, you know, and foreigners were 



55 



looker! on v'ith suspicion, Anyvay, Bowers completely 
cov^er' him and he l^^ft. But that's the kin''! of a guy 
Bowers was. His vjife vrorked at the Disney stuclios 
for a long time. A lovely quiet v;oman. She may still 
be around and in the business somewhere. A sort of mousy 
v7oman. Hot the kind you'd ever think v/ould marry such 
a raffish character. 

Adamson: Was she still m.arried to him. at the time? 

Huem.er: I don't knovj. He died. I think, in the late 
30 ' s . She was one of the toainters, I think. Let me 
point out that the animated business is not like being 
a poljceman, or a doctor, or going around having ad- 
ventures. You're just sitting at a board---sitti ng tight. 
And animating all day from nine to five. Five days a 
week, then going home and coming back tomorrow to do 
it again. All these little things I tell you are just 
incidental. The horseplay and these little ribbings 
are just incidental stuff. 

Adamson: Didn't you feel at all restricted, working 
in that sort of fram.ework, nine to five, five days a 
week? 

Huemer: No. You were completely absorbed in what you 



^. «^ 



v/ere <^oing. "''e all Iovg'? to 6.0 it. Ani^iating is fon. 
Tt still is. Mot for rne thouc'h, I clisli'^e it verv 
much now. It seems very t'^'^ious now, n^/^^iieval. But 
when you're young, it's great. B-^sides it's very 
inventi-^'e, you were your o"-'n story man, and your own- 
cameraman in the sense that you exposed your scene 
yo'^rself . You did very much what you felt li''':e. 

Adamson: Your o^-m layout man? 

Huemer: Oh, by all means, 'Jhat there '.''as, vras very 
simple. Sure, you v/ere everything. Even your own 
dialogue man. The little balloons that the characters 
spoke in would be what you. put in them. You sat do^'/n 
and made it all xio fromi the xv'hole cloth. So that was 
very absorbing. And very satisfying too. If it came 
out all right, that is, 

Adamson: You didn't feel that being called upon to 
be creative was an outrage or an imposition? 

Huemer: Heck, no, you welcomed it. That's xv'hat you 
v^ere there for. That's why you were in the business. 
Same as when I went into story at Disney's. That was 
fun too. That vras creative. My, how the day flewl 



The creative part v/as great. The fact that you har] the 
freedom to do this. That your reputation hung on what 
you did, as an artist, as an animator, as a creative 
oerson. 

Adamson: Didn't rna'<e you tense up at all? 

Kuemer: Of course not. Any^.vay it wasn't that critical. 
Very often the producer was darn glad to get the footage. 
Becavise he had to have so much every week. Mind you I'm 
talking of the early days — not Disney's. 

Adamson: You didn't get much friction as far as the 
stuff not coming up to par, or anything like that? 

Huemer: Mo, very little of that. Cur standards were 
pretty modest. 

Adamson: You did no pencil tests. 

Huemer: Oh, no, Disney started that. The way v/e vrorked it 
at Fleischers, Dave would com.e over to your board and 
sit dov/n with you and talk about what we were doing. 
It v/as very in-formal. As I told you the other day, we 
had a basic story line, of course, that we stuck to. 



?«=! 



For instance, if a character went to .''^.ars, it ha'^ to be 
Martian stuff anc? not Hawaiianl But that's about it. Tf 
you entered fror^. the left, you went out at the right, 

Adarason: Was there any oroblem of the ends not joining, 
or the pieces not rr.eshing? 

Huemer: ?Tone v/hatever. A simple hook-up sufficed. 

Ada^son: You didn't feel, at any tine, that you were 
part of the f ilrrjtiaking industry, then, did you? 

Huener: Now, that's a very interesting question, because 
I never did. Animated cartoons were sort of the back- 
water of the movie business — I alm.ost said, 'Assholel ' 
That's what some used to call itl Of course, you know, 
they didn't oay any m.oney for them in the theaters. 
Distributors gave them away. They never got any reviev/s 
in the trade journals. They didn't get reviev/s until 
Disney came along, and. sound had m.ade the cartoons really 
good at last. 

Adamson: You said there v/as no actual demand for the 
cartoons? 

Kuem.er: Correctl Not way back in 1916. 



59 



Adamson: Well, v/hy do you think they were done? 

Huemer: Don't ask me. I don't know. Nohody made much 
money out of them. It v/as jijst a novelty. 'Thy are 
novelties made? 

Adamson: Mostly to make money, it seem.s to me. 

Huemer: Well, if somebody was making money, they didn't 
let me know. I don't know who vras making it. V/ell, 
come to think of it. Fables made money, as I told you, 
because it was kind of a kept woman proposition. RKO 
ran them, in their theaters, and they had to pay so 
much pershov.'ing because they had bought ovmershio in 
Terry's studios. That was a different thing entirely. 
They had a ready-m.ade market with their enormous chain 
of theaters in x-zhich they could run these things. And 
they were therefore guaranteed a certain substantial 
amount for each film; it wasn't a hit-and-m.iss affair 
like other cartoons had to contend with. 

Adamson: But if there wasn't an actual dem.and, how do 
you think they got started? Kow or v/hy? '-/hat were 
these people's attitudes toward what they v;ere doing? 
Were they j\jst doing it for kicks or what? 



en 



Huemer: You mean the peoole v/ho oroduce-i then? They 
were all fundarr.en tally artist fellers, to begin with. 
Winsor KcCay, of course, v;as an extremely good cartoon- 
ist, one of the very greatest. And Barre was a fine 
artist and painter. Terry and people like him were 
cartoonists, and it v/as a challenge to try this new 
medium. It v-as intriguing and it v/as fun to do, too. 
They enjoyed themselves. I can never say that it wasn't 
fun to animate. Nor did. I ever m.eet anybody who didn't 
thoroughly enjoy doing it. We v;ere all glad to be in 
the business. It was new and it paid very well. And 
there v/ere those of us who experimented, like Earl 
Hurd, v7ho invented things... the Feischers . . . and later 
Disney. 

Adamson: It was m;Ostly for the artistic interest, then. 

Huem.er: I guess you could say that, Ve all loved being 
cartoonists. '.-Thich v,'e had of course set out to be. '.-le 
all got paid for it. ^■■Then I told you the other day that 
some of the artists m.ade about three or four hundred 
dollars a week, and you were wondering how that could 
be, in those poor times, well, those animators like f!oser 
worked for Hearst. He had organized the International 



61 



Cartoon Studios. Me ha.d money to throw away, and he 
could run it at a losing proposition and pay those 
salaries. 

Adamson: So that Bud Fisher and people like this ran 
the things as one of their ventures, didn't care vrhether 
it made money for them or not. Didn't care if it lost 
a little, apparently. 

Huemer: I'm not so sure, but Bud Fisher may have made 
some money out of it, too. He had the knack. But I'm 
sure Hearst lost on his International Pictures venture. 

Adamson: But he thought it v;as doing his whole business 
good. 

Huemer: Exactly. It was publicity for cartoon characters 
in his nev/spapers. 

Adamson: '/That sort of person was Fisher? 

Huemer: I never spoke to him. He would just pop in 
and pop out, had so many interests, and this was orobably 
the least of his ventures. He seemed to be a very 
quiet guy. He gave some of us the feeling that he was 
trying to be superior, you know, as the boss. Although 
he v;asn't actively the boss; he never bossed anybody, 
or stayed long enough to tell anybody what to do. He 



("2 



just hobnobbed v;ith Barre. That v;as his only contact. 
We just sav; him v.'alk in and out, that's all. Besides, 
he was doing his strio at the time, which v;as making a 
great deal of money. As I told you, he was a millionaire. 

Adamson: So there v;as a comradeship in the 3arre group. 

Huemer: Oh, wonderful com.radeship, yes, 

Adamson: How long would it take them to shoot one of 
the films, then, bet^Jeen the time you animated the stuff 
and saw it on the screen? 

Huemer: Oh, that was very quick. We made one a vreek, 
so they overlapoed in photography and other ooerations. 
'■'e used to look at cur own work and laugh like hell. 
(Adamson laughs like hell) ".'e did, v;e thought it v.-as 
great. But in the theater, they didn't. ''e were pleas- 
ing each other, you know. Very strange thing, I 
remember a scene I did with Mutt and Jeff playing 
instruments. As vrell as I can remember offhand, Jeff 
is blowing like hell on this big tube. All of a sudden 
a brick flies out and hits him on the head. Big laugh 
in the projection room. Gags like that. Later, he 
blows a flute and a snake comes out, it was dopey stuff. 



6? 



'•'e thought that was very funny. But the stuff really 
wasn't built up to the V7ay Disney subsequently learne^^ 
to do. That is, to prepare, to establish things. We 
never seemed to bother much with that, or perhaps it 
never occurred to us to do it. Disney alv/ays very 
carefully planned things, so that everything was under- 
standable, and one thing haopened after another, logically. 
There's gotta be logic in humor, I guess. 

Adamson: So the serious oart of comedy was what you 
were missing, 

Huemer: Our mistake was we weren't establishing anything 
first. '^le v/ere giving the oayoff without the builduo. 
Of course, I'm only talking abovjt myself, maybe other 
people did things differently. However, the operation 
v<7as very much as I describe it all over. In other words, 
that you sat by yourself and did v;hat you felt like. 
A.nd if it was good, you pleased the boss, if it wasn't 
you didn't work there anymore. Sim.ple as that. 

Adamson; You said you never felt like a Caoricorn. 

Huemer: No, I'm not a perfectionist. I'm very careless, 
and very lazy. And I couldn't care less about most things. 
And that's the funny thing about it, I got away with it. 



64 



From this I nad° a livingl Tell me more about Caoricorns , 

Adamson: ''v^'ell, they iistially find the hardest way to do 
things . 

Kuemer: Seel That's V7hat's v/rong. The v/hole thing's 
a fake . 

Adamson: VThy? 

Huemer: Well, I take the easiest way all the time. 

Adamson: Even when you were doing your comic strip? 
How long v/ould that take you? 

Huemer; I had to make one a day. Six a v/eek. I had 
two comic strips, did I tell you that? Cne was called 
'Good Time Guy* which I did v/ith Bill Counselm.an, who 
did Ella Cinders. 'Tell, he v;rote 'Good Tirrie G\:y' also, 
and I drew it. And all I did was draw one a day. Took 
three or four hours. He would type them out — sent 
them in from the coast ... first panel, second panel, 
third panel, and what happened in the action. The 
dialogue vjould be in separate boxes so I could tell 
what it was naturally. I also did 'Buck o' Roo ' many 
years later. A Western satire. I was out of the studio 



^s 



for a while. The first one v/as in twenty-seven and 
tv7onty-eight and the ether was in the fifties. 

Adamson: Was it a realistic strin, 'Good Time Guy*? 

Huerr.er: Yes, sort of. It wasn't grotesque or too car- 
tooned. Sort of in betv/een. 

Adamson: It wasn't a J'^utt and Jeff sort of thing. 

Huener: Oh, no, that's v.'hat I mean. It was Tiore in 
betvreen that and the very straight drawing you often see 
nowadays. I don't kno'^r if you know of an artist by the 
narre of Norrian Lind. He v.'as very prom.inent in the 
twenties. He laid the characters out for the syndicate 
and then they got me in to drav/ them. He designed them. 
But 'Bvick O' Roo ' I wrote originally and somebody 
else dres' it. Tried that combination. And that didn't 
work either. Exce'^t for a couple of years. Mow I 
write the Disney strip-'True Life Adventures.' 

Adamson: You write them? Based on what? 

Huemer; All based on anim.als , . . mamm.als and birds and 
fish. 



6^ 



Adamson ; I rnean does sone'body hand you the information 
or something? 

Huemer: !To, I get it out of "books. I read all the time. 
I search through magazines, bocks. And I'll get a nub of 
an idea. Then I have to change it around to make it an 
adventure, and I get into the merest touch of vhat's 
called anthropomorphism. Just a touch. Because too 
much is no good. Phoney. The feature is an outgrovrth 
of the Disney film>s, 'True Life Adventures. ' Cnly I 
can't use the m.ovie m.aterial, because it doesn't adapt 
to a single panel treatment. It der'ends on a given 
dram.atic situation. I've been doing it for thirteen 
years . 

Adamson: Got out of the anim.ation business. 

Huemer: Yeah. Oh, v.'ell, I did that long ago. I got 
out of actual animation way back in '3°. 

Adam.son: How come? 

Huem.er: I got tired, of it, finally. Bone V7eary. I 
went into regular cartoon 'direction, I directed, a 
couple of Disney shorts. 'Goofy and 'Jilbur' was one, an 
the other v/as 'The VThalers '--Goofy and '-:ilbur' va.s the 
first time Goofy was used as a main character. Before 



^ 



^7 



that, hf5'ci been just one of the ca?^t. 

Adam.son: '-Thy v.'as it you finally left c;";rtoonr, altogether? 

HueT.er: Why I v;ent into cooing the newspaper en'"''? They 
asked me at the studio. So I did it. 

I used to like to give shovjs , as a kid. Little 
shovs vith a littl-^ theatre vjith a little proscenium 
and a little stage and then I 'd put my hands into the 
scene, you kno'.-7, like a puppet show. T v-as in shov/ 
biz. 

Adamson: You did that regularly or just from time to 
time? 

Huemer: Mo, once in a while. Otherwise I was a normal 
boy. 

Adamson: '-Jhat kind of cartoons did you do in high 
school? 

Huemer: For instance, they v/ere mostly things like head- 
ings for articles. There ''.'as the lettering, 'Football,' 
and som.e appropriate figure under it kicking or doing 
something like that. I didr't tell you about my career 
with Judge magazine, did I? For ^r-any months, almost 
a year or so, T '^rew soot gags for Judjre. 



p.p 



Ada.TSor: '-'"nen v;as this? 

Huener: '-'ell, that's when I was with the Associatecl 
Animators. '-le har^ our ovrn anirration business, and I 
user! to do that on the side. The New Yorker just star^.ed 
about that saT.e time, I never made it. Although, I 
tried to sell therr. a nunber of things. 

Adarnsons '-Then you ran the Associated Animators, was the 
idea for the three of you to share the profits, the 
three of you? 

Huem.er: Yes, four of us partners. 

Adamson: Or did you pay each other salaries, or,..? 

Huemer: '-Jell, we took what was left. '7e had a staff 
of about ten people. And one other animator, a g^jy 
named I. Klein v.'ho subsequently got into the ^Te■'.•: Yorker 
and did a lot of stuff. He's one of the pioneers. 

Adamson: He was paid a salary? 

Huemer: Yes, he got his salary. Forget what it was, 
it wasn't m.uch. But, as I told you, vre m.ade them for 
$120n a week. And we had to pay the rent, and buy supplies 
and film, and pay people to ink and paint. And we had 
tv7o cam.e r ame n . 



69 



Adamsons So the four of you arranged all the finances? 

Huemer: Yes. '.-'hen v.'e delivered the negr.tive, we got 
$1200. Fron Bud Fisher's attorney. I'm afraid v;e 
didn't take homo n.uch money ourselves. 

Adamson: Is that vjhy you gave it up? 

Huemer: No, finally Bud Fisher decided not to do it 
anymore. "e gave it up. So we didn't have a.ny money, 
I vrent straight back to Fleischers from there. But 
Gilette went with Bowers, and Harrison and Gould v;ent 
with Mintz. But we had been, as I told you, the first 
co-operative. U.P.A. tried it later and were success- 
ful in a m.ore receptive market. 

Adamson: You say you enjoyed working V7ith the Fleischers 
more than m.ost of the other things you'd done. 

Huemer: I actually enjoyed working v;ith Disney more 
than anything else in the 'vorld. That's taken for 
granted, but working with the Fleischers was a very 
pleasant exnerience in my life, they were ^'■ery nice guys. 
And I'm, not saying that because this is on tape. No, 
Max v/as a very kindly guy, a gentleman. 



70 



Adamson: ''.•J'hat function fl id ho hav? in thr? creation of the 
thing? 

Huemer: I think :'ax vjas with Bray, originally, ancl then 
I believe, after heM made some films, I'm not sure, then 
I think he took Dave in with him. Think that's hov; it 
v/orkecl . You see, he had been creative in starting the 
'Inkv.'ell' series. Later on, he didn't mix in m.uch in the 
production. I think his brother Dave carried it on for 
the most nart. Nevertheless, he v/as there to render final 
opinions and as ^resident to run the company. After all, 
he had other ideas on expansion. He formed little live- 
action companies. He vrould buy films. He started ?ed 
Seal Film Corooration to release this product and for a 
while he '•/as doing, unsuccessfully I'm afraid, v/hat Disney 
finally did very successfully — releasing his own pictures. 
It v/asn't successful for the reason that in establishing 
these little agencies and booking offices, he paid out 
more than he took in for the films. It just didn't work 
out. And that's the story as I understand it. Max was really 
the front m.an, but of course he v;as in every one of the 
Koko the Clown cartoons. 

Adamson; He spent most of his time in the front office 
and as an actor. 



71 



Hueni.er: Yes, it seemed to Xeep him very busy. I never 
saw him much in the drawing rooms. I mean actively par- 
ticipating. Dave tool-: over that chore. Dave handled it. 
And very well. It was fun working v^ith Dave. 

Adamson: ^vhen you say it was fun, do you mean. . . 

Huemer: Dave had good ideas. 'Je laughed a lot, and said, 
•Hey, that's funnyi ' Or, 'Greatl why don't we do that.' 
That's how the business of creation was carried on. 

Adamson: Most of the people v/ho ran animation concerns 
then seem to give out m.ore than they take in. ''fhat kept 
their concerns going? 

Huemer: '''ell, I told you that Pat Sullivan made a lot of 
money on licensees. And Terry made much money on his 
being associated v.'ith RFC. I guess Fleischer must have 
taken enough money in, at first, on his pictures through 
states' righting them,. Other-wise he couldn't have 
operated. At the time I wouldn't say that he v;as a 
wealthy man, as an o^^'ner of a company. .. certainly he was 
no m.illionaire, the v/ay Disney becam.e, or som.e of the 
others like Hanna-3arbera, my Godl wowl At any rate 



72 



it was 'oretty touch ari'^- go, "or a long time. Anr\ tY'.erf". 
was, a?^ I tolri you, a crisis every soring. vrhether we 
v/ere gonna get a new release or not,.,''-7e called it getting 
a release. Very often the release was out the front door. 

Adamson: You never expected the thing to burgeon into 
what Disney turned it into? 

Huemer: I must say I never did. Oh, there were people 
who had dream.s. I told you about this one guy, Lederer, 
vrho was going to do a feature about Cinderella. He was 
the fellow who invented depth in the panorama scenes, 
you remember. I have here a book of Lutz's, you've heard 
of him. In this he talks about v/hat the future might 
mean to animated cartoons, that they might som.eday do 
serious worthwhile things. 

Adamson: Of course, the book was written in '24. 

Huemer: Yeah, whenever it v/as . Incidentally, Lutz 
looked like som.ething from the Left Bank or out of La 
Boheme. 

Adamson: Is this Disney animation paper? 

Huemer: Yes, that's Disney animation paper. Notice 



73 



these slits. Originally ho only ha'^ tvo holes li'-^.e 
everybody else. Then he added slits for better registry. 

Adarr.son: I've got Ko'<o the Clown in front of rae. Four 
fingers, did he alv/ays have four fingers? 

Huemer: Yep. All cartoon characters have three fingers 
and a thumb. 

Adatnson: Big, long, vertical eyes. 

Huerrer: Yen, with a little cross in between them, 

Adamson: A little cross? 

Huemer: Should be. Isn't there? 

Adamson: Oh, you mean in the middle of... 

Huem.er; In the middle of the eye, there should be a 
little slit. 

Adamson: How was that designed? 

Huem.er: Oh, that's, a clown's m.ake-up, don't you '<now. . . 
they put little lines down this way when they paint 
th'^ir eyes, you've seer, clowns in this m.ake-u^^. 



74 



Adamson: Nov:, th.^ r, clovm vas r^.oci^l.ef^ after Davo . 

Hu«?ner: Dave put the suit on, ar.'i then prance^'' around in 
front of a camera and did whatever was required. For 
Rotoscopo, that is. 

Adamscn: But it ha.s his facial features. 

Kuemer: Well, it has his rather big neck. 

Adams on: .\nd wide mouth. 

Huemer: '-'ell, in a way, I suppose. ''e did all our own 
inking. First you pencilled. And then you ma.de the in- 
betweens, and you inked those. That reminds me now, I'm 
glad you m.entionod that . . . v:'ay back in I'utt and Jeff days 
when looking at a niece of film., I noticed that very often 
the action wa.s blurred in bet^-.'een, when som.ething was 
moving fast. And i deci'^'^ed that I v/ould save all that 
work of in-betv^eening by just having a bunch of lines or 
smudges, just scrabble, from, position to position, v/hen 
something moved fast. To prove it, I had an alarm clock 
flying through the air, and right in the middle of the 
action I put a brick. And v;hen they ran the finished 
film you didn't see the brickl It proved that you didn't 
really see v/hat was in the middle. But I overdid it. 



75 



finally it lookeci like haystacks in ■b'.^tve^n, '"rorr' nositior 
to position, rir.c^ then I^arre tcl'''i me to plf^ase knock j t 
off. He v/as always polite. Tie said softly, 'Let's na'-'c 
the in-betweens like e^^'erytody else, eh?' If you loov 
at old films, you'll see often in a ovnc^ action that 
the figure v^ill be blurred, I got the idea of using 
lines to fill that space in, going in the direction of 
the action, roughly of course in the shape and size of 
the character. 

Adanson: This is don^ today all the timei 

Huerer: It is done todayl 3],' '^eorgel I never thought 
of that. Now that you T^.ention it. That v/as really the 
?lue Streak , that's "^-.'here ncdern animation really came 
f roml 

Adamson: "i-Jhat do you mLean? 

Huemer: I mean the stuff that Hanna and Earbera do. 
In Disney's 'The Tortoise and the Hare* we had the hare 
running so fast that he le-^t a blue streak trailing. 
We always had this blue streak, and he just went across 
in about four drawings, leaving this long blue streak. 



n 



7S 



same thin^. Another Disrray invTiti cnl '•'her. I c' i -^ it I 
ha^r! it noving too s lov so you coul^'l see the lines. 

The Clo^-'n's not corr-iarahle to Dirney's characterization: 
'•7h i ch • a? T startec^ to sav he'^^ore this. '■7o''^e vis all u"^ h"'' 
trying for greater r'""alism, ''hich ve either -^icin't then 
know enough to attempt or dic'^n't care to atte-^ot. At any 
rate v;e hac^n't done it. 

Ac'aiiEon; You were cooying action of? the P.otascope, 
isn't this the methoc! use""? to animate the Clown? 

Huener: Yes. But that woulc^ only he one little scene 
in one of the shorts. An-i it was too exoensive to do. 
It meant that all the action had to be... first shot, 
photographed, and then it would have to be n^roj^^^cted 
and somebody would have to draw each fram:e. And some- 
body would ha"-e to change it, and somebody had to ink 
it. All so that it didn't loo''^ too different frc^. the 
anim.ation that was han'^-drav/n. 

Adamson: Did you c^.o any of it? 

Huemer: !'''o, I never did any of it. That was purely 
mechanical . 



77 



A<^amson: It ].ooVe--l nretty rf-^alistic, thouq^... 

Huemer: Die! Dave ever mention sorneboc'y by the nan^.e of 
Doc Crandall? 

Adamson: Not yet. 

H\.ieni5r: ';ell, he should because v;hen I caif^e to v/ork 
for Fleischers he was their only animator. He used 
to do the P.ota-sco'^je. He used to transpose it from 
film to cartoon as well as <^o other bits o-^ animation. 

Adamson: There was only tv7o of you, then, when you 
started with Fleischer? 

Huemer: N'O, Burt Gilette had gotten there before me. 
And he got me in. That's ho'-: it happened. He'd been 
at Mutt and Jeff. He had been sort of a shop forem.an 
up there. He was head man for a while, ran the nlace. 
'■''Tien it changed hands, after both Earre and Bov/ers 
v/ere out, Gilette ran it for the Jefferson Film. Cor- 
poration. So v/hen he left that place he went to the 
Fleischers, then he got me in there. It was a very small 
staff. I don't think there were more than about six 
peoole in on the proposition. 



7P 



Adamson: The whol? thing? Including inkers anci nainters 
anc? camara'T'.en? 

Huemer: Yeah. Somt^thing like that. Say ten at the most, 

.^daTison: '^Tot even as hig as Barre's place, then. 

Huemer: No, it v;as very sraa.ll, very cczy little place. 
They V7ere on the first floor of an old brovrnstone build- 
ing on 45th Street. 

A(3amson: They v/ero n^ore and less leading the field at 
the tiTTie, weren't they? 

Huem.er: ^'o, "^erry vas already doing '.-/ell. Terry had. a 
head start, had already started his 'Fables' or^erations. 
And Pat Sullivan was going along too. I don't know of 
anybody else. 

Adamson: Did you see much of the stuff turned out by 
the other studios? 

Huemer: >Then T v/as v;ith Fleischers, the only one who 
we considered serious competition and \';ho V7e considered 
perhaps as having the edge on us '-.'as the Terrvtoons. We 



79 



often went to see them to stu'fy them. And we were often 
impressed . 

Adamson: '.-Then you say 'v;e* are you including the 
Fleischers? 

Huemer: Sure, the Fleischers too. We were all friends, 
you knov7. It vras a small v/orld. 

Adamson; But they didn't resent the com.netition? 

Huem.er: Ch, no, nothing like that. There wasn't enough 
involved for that. Don't forget Disney v/as the big boy 
in those days, and there v/asn't really anybody that was 
anyvrhere near him. He wasn't big at all before sound. 
In fact he v/as clearly nowhere before sound. I had never 
heard of Disney until I v/ent to the Colony Theater on 
Broadway and saw one of his si lent 'Oswalds . ' Mov; this 
must have been *26. Cr somewhere in there. And I liked 
it so well that it V7as a case of 'My goshl V/ho v.'as this 
guy, where 'd he com.e from?' And 'This is the best stuff 1 ' 
And, bad though it may look now, it looked wonderful 
to me. And to us... other friends in the business. It 
wasn't long before sound cam.e out. With it came Disney's 
smash cartoons successes like'Plane Crazy , 'Skeleton Dance,' 
and 'Steamboat Willie.' But before that I think I'd seen 



on 



about four or five of Disney 'r; things, I user5 to go 
deliberately^' to that theater just to see thern. I thought 
they v.'ere that good, 

Adamson: Kov; did you feel about this? Did you feel any 
resentment? 

Huemer: Pleasure. 

Adamson: As a mem'ber of the industry? 

Huemer: Right. I admired Disney as somebody v/ho gave 
us som.8 thing to be proud of. No, there may have been 
those v7ho vare jealous, but I never was. .-.nd there v/ere 
those v/ho figured that if they tried to, and if they had 
Walt's secrets, and knew his tricks, they could do the 
same. Everybody thought '/alt had some kind of <5.eep 
secret formula. Things knovm only to him that m.a3e his 
cartoons so good. Outsiders really insisted that he 
had some cle'/er trick or other. The only trick he ever 
had was great genius and application, and his perfection- 
ism. Boy, he had iti It actually vras a shot in the 
arm for the business. I was with the Fleischers and we 
all started making sound cartoons. The only ones v;ho 



riici anythinn co-^parahle at a?-l, and they didn't ever 
quite reach Disney, were Harnan and Tsing, They occasion- 
ally would turn out a real good film. They v-orke'"' scr^-othing 
like Disney. They had some of the feeling of a Disney, 
the only ones who ever had it, they had it. They v;ould 
occasionally try to do something significant. Like they 
v^ould make a cartoon against war. '.''hich v/asn't half had. 
Once v/hen they v/ere in trouble with Schlesinger Disney 
helped th^m out financially. 

There's a famous story about '/alter Lantz. He used 
to give runnings of his cartoons in theaters for vids on 
Saturday. And one tim.e he ran all his Osv.'alds and then 
he appeared personally on stage and talked to the kids. 
Then when it was over he said, 'Mov/ what is the test 
cartoon in the v/orldi' And all the kids yelled out, 
'Mickey Kousel ' This actually happened, 

Adamson: You weren't very im.pressed with the Mintz 
organization in the period you were working there. 

Huemer: Not too. I'll admit that we tried to m.a':e good 
pictures. But, again, they didn't have a very good re- 
lease. I don't remember seeing many of them around. 



B2 



Colurr.bia v.— ^ reloacing our stuff. You J^ae, Charlie Mints 
himself was a ■businr:'3Eman. To him, it vas a •^'oo5 
V7ay of making money. And that was tha trouble v/ith many 
of them. That was the trouble with' Schlesinger of 'Jarner 
Brothers, it was just a source of income for him. And 
while he was concerned, no doubt, in m.aking theia good, 
he had no actual hand in accomplishing this. 



Adamison: 'Jell, describe working conditions at the Ilintz 
place. 

Kuemer! They were fine for me. 

Adamson; You hac) freedom? 

Huem.er: Ch, yes, ccm.plete. It was pleasant for m.e. 
And for those of us v;ho were bosses. Like Harrison and 
Gould were there on 'Krazy Kat. ' And Sid Marcus and Artie 
Davis also, who were headmen of the 'Scrappy 'series . 

Adamson: So you ware directing? 



83 



Kuemer: Yes, V7e directed. As veil as animating everything 
also. 

Adanson: But you didn't have to do your ov7n inking or 
painting? 

Kuemer: No, VJhen you worked on paper, you did your ov/n 
inking. '.'e did it at the Fleischers . Even the stuff 
that V7as transposed to cells, to be used over a photo- 
graph on the Rotascope, v/ou.ld be inked. And you did you 
own inking. 

Heinrich Kley v.-as a great pen and ink technician. 
VJs admired hira. He was a beautiful draftsman. And the 
stuff had a cartoony, huraorous appeal. '.Wasn't straight 
drav/ing. And because, as I say, we sketched and did 
various embellishments with the pen and ink, which v;as 
fun to do, we tried to imitate him, "e couldn't actually 
imitate him because you couldn't actu:illy imitate his 
technique. His figures './ere too full of lines. They 
v/eren't simple enough for the tracing and retracing we 
had to 60, '/alt had a v;hole collection of I'ley's stuff. 
He picked them up after the v;ar. He's got'em. fram.ad, 
dov/n in Disneyland, There's a place dovrn there called the 
'37' Club; or something like that, which is for VIF's only. 
You can only get in through the studio. But in the lobby 



8-1 



thsy have many of I'.ley's v;onc''erZul fraiued original.- . 

Adamson: I do r^otico that this v:as morG or less tha 
cartoon style of tho strip and of the tirpiS. 

Huemcr; Cf the tine, yeah. Of course, they all v.'ere, 
naturally. Bray's 'Colonel Ileeza Liar' is distinctly 
a caz'toon of its period, I 'ra not just sv.yi.v.rj it about 
Bray's. Actually it v.-'as a kinf. of a fundaraentally ugly 
style of caricature. To tc-.g any-oay. 

Adamson: Did it soera ugly than? 

Kuem.er; No, actually not. Everybody --..'as doing it. You'll 
find, if you loch at 'Colonel Ileeza Liar,' he's quite an 
ugly little guy. r^nd so is Felix the Cat — a pretty weird 
little thing — but I thought I'.ickey r-'.ouse vas cute iprj-^ad lately, 
Right away he v/as a cute little character. 

Adarr.son: Did r^ichey Mouse looh that much -nore striking 
than Csvald the Rabbit? 

Huemer: '.Tell, we could all tell the difference. Yes, 
there was a big difference. Cf course, Os^-.'ald the Psabbit 
didn't have the stories. But most of all Cs-,.'ald didn't 



oc 



have Disney. If rii ckfsy Mouse didn't have Disnoy, it 
vculdn't ba Tlicksy Mouse. No, that raan Dir^ney '.7as good, 

Adan^.scn! All of tho cartoons of the tiT.e r'3ssmbled anirr.ated 
comic strips, didn't they? This vas the idea. 

Huener: Basically, yes. But rot in pen technique because 
you couldn't put all this shading in the cell systerr. car- 
toons. Terry couldn't put any of that shading in li''<e 
I have done there. Because that i-'a.s done on paper. You 
could do shading en paper. In'Koko* ycu could d.o it on 
paper also. But you couldn't do it on cells. Mobody did 
it. Certainly not Terry. 

Adamson; The animation that I've seen of this tiTie seems 
to have a completely different texture. 

Kuemer; v7ell, becuaso it ■'.••asn't anal^'zed. Disney was the 
first person v/ho really analyzed cartoon action. Old 
animation was done from pose to pose without much thought. 
It was al-iost like it ■.-.•as a design. '■.'ithout any ■',,'eight. 
"■/Thareas Disney im-med lately gave his characters v;eight, 
and life and breath, and naturalness. In Disney it 
flov;ed from thing to thing, and our stuff went from 
extreme to extreme. Because it v:as . A character would 
come to a complete stop from, a stride position; he'd 



or. 



corriG tc a ccmplotsi sto'o 2.nc3 th.ero "ho'd 'ho]"! it, Ap.d h.is 
eyss v.'oulcl blin'c. Or his hair v.-ouin stand up, or vhatcver 
Or if his hoad did turn, the rest of hira v/culd still bo 
stuck there stiffly. '.•Jhc-rear Disney got away from all 
that. He figured that in any action a figure never Cci.-.e 
to a complete stop all at once. Things overlapped. Over- 
lapping action was an invention of Disney's. ',\hen a fat 
man jumps up, the top part of his body takes off first and 
then the lov^er part follcvs up a few frames later. And 
then when he comes down, this me.ss stretches out, keeps 
going up for a while, and then that drops after. This 
idea, one thing overlapping', movement v.-ithin the figure, 
was something that Disney first brought to ciar attention. 
It was never done in the old days x-hen everything was 
like a cut-out thing, moving in one piece. "o thought 
of his clothing follo'-ing through, sweeping out and 
dropping a fo'-/ frames later -.-hich is v;hat it does 
naturally. Tl-iat's v/hy Disney's animation looked so 
different. 

Adamson: Did the animation industry consist of, chiefly, 
older or younger m.on? 

Kuemer: 3arre had been a fine arts painter, who oainted 



87 



portraits and things like thc.t, ar.d he ~sry have bssn in 
the comm.ercial art l-.uGine:::s. Georg-5 3 tailings had been 
a cartocnist in the South Goirswhsro. £talllngs vjas 
about five years older than rr.e; and Foster had been 
in some bu-^iness like upholstering, I thin': ani^-.'ay. 
Foster ^ra.s the oldust. Then he rrust have been in his 
thirties. And I told you about this other guy, Weber, 
vho vras a sign painter. Hov; he only came in w'nen it got 
colci. And for the rest, they v;ero young like myself, 
all guys "-■.-ho vanted to be cartoonists. Art Davis* brother, 
Mannie Davis, carne to vork there too, about that time. 
I don't think he'd had any other jobs. And ?eg Kurray 
was a sports cartoonist, in Nev; York City. He had been 
a sports cartoonist on a newspaper. But none of us had 
too rruch experience. Certainly not in animation, because 
it was such a. nev7 business. C?;arlie 2ov.-ers had ?oeen an 
editorial cartoonist for the ITewark News . And I hate 
to adait it but he v;as a damn good one. He really v.'as 
great, 

Adamscn; So by the twenties, it v-as pretty ~uch of a 
raixed bag, then, of people who had been artists and 
cartoonists and people './ho hadn't been anything. 

Huemer: It would have to be. We were all equally in- 
experienced. '.7e had the brother of Slackens, the fa.-ous 



Ashcan 3chool artict. lie wor'orl for a whilo at I'.utt ar.c! 
Jeff. He had beer, scrr^e ^cinc? of a fine artist and illustrator 
and had ccntri'':;uted to Judg ~- and Life, And. sonchody called 
Frank Nankeville. ?Ie also vTorked out there for a v.'hile. 
You'll find his n^.zce also in Punch and these eld cG"ic 
magazines. And I told you atcut Vet Anderson, the guy 
that kept his tohacco in his pocket... to fill his pipe. 
He had also contributed, to hu~orous rr.-ag.a^ines , So some 
of then had that sort of experience. They could all 
certainly dra-.;. Each man ir3.s his own creator. He sat 
there and he thought up all the stuff he animated. It v^as 
his responsibility. It ■^-a.s al'.'ays inherent in the thing 
dov/n underneath that you Vs'ould like to do so:-.ething good. 
Like when Albert Hurter did the American flag, :.-hich v/e 
thought Tvas so vonderful. Of course Hurter was superb as an 
artist. Very pcssibl.y he was the best that ever carr.e 
into the business. "o, '..-e often experirriented or tried to 
do nice things, li!:e when I experimented with the hay- 
stacks, for in-betweens, to try th.at speed effect. And 
as for gags, -..-e tried to be as funny as we could. Didn't 
have m.uch time to -ic it though. You mainly had to knock 
out your footage gucta in a week. I'-.zzt week ycu started 
over ag.ain \: ' ' 



PO 



I-Iu3~iC-r: To be suro. Tnero v;as a great- deal of prcnc-irG. 
■i-Je ha:?, to '.:cr'z nights GO-T.e of th3 tirao. "o picturaj 
no pay. 

A-farr.scn: ''ithovit certine? 

Huener: Ch, God, ncl Tliara was no union th3n, 

AdaTT.scn: IJlien 3 id they enter the picture? 

Ilueraer: Arcun"! '39. ':Jl-ian they organized and strucV, 
TJisney's, Before that, there had been a sort of company 
union of which I vas vice-prceident. Yes it wae definitely 
a cer.-.-any union. Disney had initiated and fostered it. 
Tney figured we had to have a union so thev', rr.cstly 
C-unther Lessin^-VJalt 's attorney, set it up. 



Huerrier: To have a union to tn-'art any outside union fro.Ti 
getting in. To satisfy people -.-he thought we ought to have 
a union. 

Adarrison: '7ell, what did you achieve? 



90 



Hueror: rothinc. . 3ecau=c the other union (lATSZ} ct.7:\e 
Eilong and put us cut of hv-.zinoz~ . t'nc n-.oro Icgit.irr.rito 
union, :xccor-ing to the la*.'.':;, cnrr.c along. TIic one v.-e 
have n-o::, tho S'-cr^on Ccrtccnict.s , 

Ac?a'r-cn: Arc th^y the cricc v:ho 3tag-e the stril^c? 

Huomor: Y^ah. Right. I Sicln't go out on strike. Being 
vice-president of the other union, what cculcl I do? They 
used to jeer at us c^s •.•.■e cair.e in and cut. And cnce "..'alt 
toc}c cff his c.oat and vanted to square it cff '..'ith so~ehody, 
I thin'c it 'y/ac Art Dahhitt. Just kidding, you ''/inc.:. 3ut 
V- . . ^ / .-ei.eri .- --..j_t_--^-X'-i-j . x.i^_^ ^ ^^^x *-;iiii-^o a^ ^^a ;-^^ y^w-'-t ./eiiu 
thrcugh the gate. MighLy uncc!npliment:5.ry things. Like ho:'r 
one guy '■.■'aG an alcoholic or so.aething. 

Adarr.son: £o you never had much to Co -^'ith the other union? 

Hucraer: Ch, yes, I '■.—.s a ste-v/ard for a v/hile in self- 
defense. Sure, we all joined it. Cartoonists are not 
that labor oriented. Tr.cj easiest thing \7as to join it and 
go along with it. Sure, I was a steward for a while. 

Adamsons A stev.'ard? 

Huerr.er: Yes, I represented the animators or something. I 
was on the board. The only stewing I did v/as about the 



91 



indignity of having to go to meetings v/hich tore:? the holl 
out of rri3. 

Adamson: Your friends, are they cartoonists? 

Huerr.er: ITo. I'.y p-rsonal friends are rr-.ostly civilians. 

AdaiuGon: Did you stay avray frora thera intentionally? 

Kue.-asr: I've always raade it a practice not to limit 
iry- friends to business associates. I li::e to leave 
my vor^t behind. Ch, occasionally, of course, -.vc get 



together. But not as a steady thing. I do i 



■f- 1 



ti r^ r* n >-) ■" 



thin'c rr.any people socialize v.'ith each oth:.r at Disney's. 
I thin^: you should have a complete change in every -.ray 
when you leave your job. Go ho:ne and forget it. 

Adamson: Did you go horn.e ever and sxperiraent at night 
with various projects? 

Hueraer; Yes. I did a boo'c of poetry, and I've done quite 
a bit of v.-riting. Li!:e the record I showed you which I 



did for the studio called 'A Chris t-as at 






.-.-.T - .-r-' t 



v;as m so"e -.agazme one Chris tnas. '.'ery nice spread. 
:er they put it on a record. And then there's that 



92 



boc': I vrot-.i', tlio poetry boov. — '.-i Dragon on tho '.lill r.c~AC.' 
I'n a very lazy guy. I li':c to r^acl other people 'c v/ritincro 
mostly. 

Ac!a~eon: ''•■Then yo\:*re off \Tor^.'., yo^J reeign your a~biticne7 

Muorr.er: I dcr. 't have any arabitione an^^ncre. '-^hen you get 
to be rr.y age, you r^on't v.-crry about your future acbicvonent; 
It's sort of behind you. '.That car, you hope to accomplish 
anynicre? If I haven't done it nc;, it's not likely I'll 
-ever do it. 

Huvener: '/ell, I did the dra'-zings for Jur'ge r.:agazine. I 
did thera on the side. I nee.c'oc'- the Money — being vice- 
president of 'Associateii .bni-aators • paid only in prestige. 

Huener: 2y myself . I designed it and I went to a printer 
and had the v:hole thing gotten up, 

Adanison: Is '/hat I'm looking at typical reading material? 
Aldcus Hu::ley, Hilton and Dante? 

Huemer: Yes. I even read Bulv/er-I ytton * s dry-bones stuff. 



O r> 



'rh»C3 3irc ^11 art boo?.^ '^.cv/n on thT bettor, r-hel-^. 

\dar.i.Goa: C-^-zannc, Botticelli. 

Hueraor; And collecticns of ccir.c^y reprint'^, out of the 
"■S'T Yor''or ar.^'' '.^?, nity '-•'air j F^t^'^r Arnc , ?.ll the gooc'. comic 
artists are thcro. But the ol'5.or I get the more I like 
to rea^ factvial stuff. I no longer care for novels . I 
just got finishec? reading I'acaulay's History of England . 
It was fascinating. Tliese vere living people. This 
happened. I don't li'-e make-believe stuff an^jinore. !'ot 
unless it's real gooc! , I 'ir. a Civil '^ar buff, as you can 
see. I've al'-'ays been interested in the Civil 'Jar. I've 
always been fascinated by history. I should have been 
a history teacher. I 'n serious. If you '/rould ask me 
x>'hat I thin': I should have done, I'm sure it's that. 
I never lose interest in the historical past. 

Adams on: 'Icll, '^on't you think you might, if ycu v;ere 
compelled to do it every day? 

Huem.er: Listen, I've read so miuch stuff. You can't begin 
to thin'vl oheel 

Adam.son: Did you ever do any actual research? 7or 
kicks, or just a lot of reading? 



o/\. 



Huera'jr: I'o . Z'rr.t roading. I never iitcndec' to '?o anythir^r; 
vith it. Although thr^re's a lot to be '^cne in history. 
Lot? to be 5onc. You could take any subject, and r;c f?.r 
just th3 ;;urfaco has; b-^en scratche.^'' , Take Abrc-ha-?. Lincoln, 
I've got so nany books about him, yet you cov: lei still 
write a great book on hi". i just got finiehec? reacHng 
about Ja-es 11, in England. '.n-iat a fascinating scnofabitchl 
Really a mad monarch. You v.'onder v.'hy the English put up 
v/ith him so long, 

Adameon: 3o you're an historian at heart. You v^cren't 
thinking during the t--:entie3 that you '-'ished you vere 
doing this? You vrere still fascinated vith animation then, 
,'t you? 

Husmer: Ch, of course. 3y all m.ee;ns, yes, alvays in 
some forra of dra'./ing. '.rnen I '.''-aen't doing anir.ation, 
I '.-.'as doing a comic strip. I've been very happy vith 
my profession, "van though. I might better have been 
a history teacher. 

Adamison; Do you think it v;ould have '.-'orked out better? 

Huemer: ::ither that, or if I had been on a ne-vcpapcr. 



That's a.n intsrostirig proi'csGion. I shoul-3 liKr. tc h.-.vi 
had a ccluiT.n in the nc-.'s paper. Lii'.c jTr.. I su;^-'po39 
I •ill ■'-ciclding rr/solf. Don't knov v.-hcthor I cculd have 



-1 hhat But 



c'onc it. 3ut I certainly choulc'. have lix-r 



then na'bcdy cor.-ic- along an-"' cayc, '"'.^y, 'ci'^ , ho^.' -.;oulc' 
yea liv.3 to vrite a colunn, ' Co they? :'o. I ccnnider 
that the anination businccc hac been very goc-fl to rao. 
I ma'^a V3r'_,- gocf. ir.onoy. I don't have to vzcrry financially 



Gva 






'oaor 



frightening. No, it T-:a3 stimulating to he arcun:?- Disney. 



■,7nGn no 



V, o • r" 



:ono in a rcoa, the hair '-.'culd Gtanc! up on 



uTiti i-xj. — '- Oi. _^'i^'^j. iia_.,.— — i-i-^u-j-cii-iv-iXj', .-O — • ii;x^.2 i_..aL. 



Adavcon: "-11, vacn't thin prohahly hecauss ha -;an 
your em;alo''-cr? 



.--uc:a-3r! 









, '^ •^ — . ■ ^- 



saa righ' 



T^^ V-4- T -r ••- ^^ 



• '^ V ,^ "''*' r> ^ t'h'^ ^i^\'7r'^ T r^ -^ ■'^ - ^i^ 



you v.-'ii ch inc id an ta 1 ly 



: . ^ . 1 . V i^ ^ 



tc 



i-.G, 



fir a anyho'''y. 






jvery other craativa par::?on, yc 



9 5 



felt you'v? ha^ talentc that hav-n't 'zccr vced. 

IIuemGr: Vcc, ':h-::::.'s a'bcut it. Tnr.t's --hy I've -v-ritton 
lyric3 for several musical c'-r-.Gdies tl:c\ :-. !iavo nov^r 
"been produced, hoping th3y v.'.vald h-; produced, I belong 
to A3CAr. I'-.-: --'rittc-n lyrics for sor.gc that Disney 
has used. .Ml pert of the creative li:^o e.-.:'' relief 
:o:a your oi 






. V— J- ^ J •? 



"i" thi^h, "i'l'Iv i^'ic-'^ o" '"■•:'^c"-« /"'ed o*^ '''e.t-^ 
id I -^e.:! that. I'd finally 



had enough. That I'd reelly had it, \- a n:it-' 
fact that's how I becarr^e a director. I got to 



■ ,'^ -•* .-N - 



r- 1 ' 7- -^ 



across tne page. Tea- tact enat eere ee ■'.-as "-.'ay o-'er 



ere and tio-- I hadc^a brin;' hir. -cay over th: 



ii_i^^ -J o >_ • — .ii i. .^i> J^. j_.v.-;^ .ij.;.. -G i L. e^ . ii.ii.-. e -L ■- • ^o Liia.- ^ 
when I ■.•;ent to 'dalt and told hirn I ••/as thrc';gh '.-.•ith 
aniraation. "as tTiere an opening for a director? Luchily 
there happened to be. And directioe. at Disney's is a v;hol = 
different thing, and a './hole big story. 'Hnat direstcrs 
did at Disney's and -./hat they didn't do. And I thinh 

est fun of anything I did. I only directed 



97 



sura that vas the raort fun I evor ha^ . It '-i.:: just cjrf^-.t. 
For" cn^ thing ycu 'v;ere preccntc-d v;i th a great, finri-ly 
v:orkccl out story. This v.'as given to ycu. ".'alt haa 
vrorkad on this story, you ha''"', toe, a little. 3ut hero 
it vas on your vralle on the story boards. There it v/as , 
all you had to do t.o\i V7ac to nahs it. And this was a 
vronderful thing. You 'f,r\-^v7 that '.Jalt already liked it. 
All you '^ad to do -.jas tO' nahe it anirrate. ''hich you 
did, vj.th aninators, and v;ith a rrusicican, and you tiued 
it, and you recorded your dialogue, and you loohed at 
rushes. You had so-called sweat-tox sessions \'hcre the 
ani~ators showed their stuff and you crticieed it, and 
then you had it inhed and photogr.a p^^ed and cut. It was 
great, just creative as can be. Then you v/ent to a preview 
and the laughs were for you. You felt that you had had 
something" personal to do v/ith therr,. ^^.'^.d, 'cnc/ing ycu had 
pleased :valt made you feel great, 

Adamson: In the early days your cartocns '.reren't pre- 
viewed or anything, just siuply sent cut. You didn't 
attend their first ser^e.^.in:^ in a theetsr? 

Huemer: '^'e often didn't know what happened to the.~. 
went. They night have ''oBcn dropped in a cicop hole. Some 



no 



cf thnra dsrcrvcc' to be, I'm afr:ii<5. 

Ac'amscn: Did you car.:? 

Fluep.'^r: -Tot too rauch, .".ncl whon you c'. ic'. go in ^oro-Disn^y 
doyoj T-'h?.t h'-ippenor: '■.'as as I tolc". you scn-:.boc?y vo'Jld croy, 
•I hatG these tilings 1 ' 'i'hat suro too>. the edge off your 
pride. I'm f7uro my flight raiscinthropic tondenciss date 
from that period. 



EI^ID OF I'lTTEHVIEW 



TAPE NUMBER TV;0 : SIDE ONE 



Huemer: Vie alv;ays had preliminary meetings before 
vie did any of the episodes or musical numbers In 
Fantasia , and out of nov/here one day Walt said, 'Say, 
is there any kind of music that v/ould support the 
idea of the creation of the v.'orld , or the beginning 
of life on this v/orld? ' And before he v/as finished 
saying it almost, Stokov/ski said, 'Why, yes! The 
Sacre!' Walt said, 'The sock?' And Stokowski said, 
'Yes, Sacre du Prlntemos by Stravinskl ! ' --v/hich means 
Rites of Spring. And VJalt said, 'Yeah? Maybe that's 
what v.-e're looking for.' Stokowski said, 'It isn't 
really about the creation of the v;orld, but it is 
music that v;as v/ritten to depict life in primitive 
Siberia among the v;lld, almost stone-age people — 
their dances, and their religious rites. It's very, 
very v;eird, out of this v;orld music.' So V/alt said, 
'Let's hear it.' So v;e happened to have a record 
(v;e did everything from records at first, like with 
Beethoven, v;e had Toscanini's version to work from 



100 



originally), and got the record and played it. 
And that was it. V/alt said, 'This is great!' So 
there's the genesis of part of Fantasia . 

Adamson: Stravinski wasn't very pleased about that. 

Huemer: We never saw Stravinski. At least, I 
never did. There are various versions on that. 
One is that v/hen Stravinski sav; it, he said that's 
what he meant, that's v;hat he had in mind. Although 
I don't believe it. I don't think Beethoven v;ould 
have said that's v;hat he had in mind if he sav; vrhat 
we did to his Pastoral Symphony either. But it v/as 
original with us. 

Adamson: V/ell, would that bother you, if he did say 
that v;asn't v/hat he had in mind? 

Huemer: Av/, no. VJhy should it? Who cares what 
they think. I mean v;e ' re in the entertainment busi- 
ness, and music's a very arbitrary thing, isn't it? 
You can say this music represents a storm; the next 
guy says no, it represents a battle, or another guy 
says it represents an earthquake--and they would all 



101 



be right, because v/ho's to say? So v/e say that that 
Beethoven music reminds us of fav/ns cavorting and 
centaurs. So go prove it doesn't! 

Adamson: When you started to work for Disney, did 
you do any animating? 

Huemer: Oh, yes. I animated a lot of his pictures 
like '-The Grasshopper and the Ants,' 'Tortoise and 
the Hare,* *Water Babies.' My first animation v/as in 
Lullaby Land and a number of Silly Symphonies. Then 
I animated on 'The Little V/lse Hen' v/hich v;as the 
first time Donald Duck appeared, the first time they 
used his voice. They hadn't 'found' him yet; they 
hadn't determined how to use him. He became a cranky 
character later on, but in this he was just a duck 
who spoke with 'Ducky' Nash's voice. And I animated 
on 'The Band Concert,' which Shlckel says is one of 
the best of his shorts. I did The Duck in that picture 

Adamson: So you did run into the problem of finding 
the voice for the duck? 

Huemer: No, that was all done. V/alt had determined 



102 



that. The story as I hear it Is that Ducky Mash 
came to Walt looking for a job and demonstrated his 
voices, and said, 'Here's one that I got. Hov; do 
you like this? I don't knov/ v;hat it is.' And did it, 
and V/alt said, 'Why that's a duck!' Anyv/ay that's 
how I heard it; I wasn't there. He became a crank 
In another picture, which I didn't animate on. I 
believe it's called 'The Orphan's Benefit.' That's 
the first time he was a crank and did this come-on- 
and-fight bit. Dick Lundy animated and deserves 
credit for that. And Freddie Spencer deserves credit 
for having drawn the duck the vmy he looks today. 
The original duck, the v;ay we animated it at first, 
the models v/ere made by somebody else and had a long, 
sort of pointed beak. But Freddie Spencer made it 
Just the way it looks today. Spencer was killed in 
an automobile accident in the thirties. Promising 
career. 

Adamson: When you say models, do you mean model sheets? 

Huemer : Yes . . . 



103 



Adamson: He vrasn't doing three-dimensional models 



then, was he? 



Huemer: No, no. That was only done v;hen we v;ere 
doing features. As a matter of fact, not until v/e did 
Pinocchio . We had a v/hole department, the model 
department, that did just that. They would have 
Pinocchio in a sitting pose or pointing or whatever 
would help the animator get the feeling of the round- 
ness of the character. About two or three positions, 
I guess, at the most. Same v/ith Gepetto; I can only 
remember two on him. There were twenty models made 
in each series at least. Not only v;ere there 10 or 
15 animators, there were also people who followed up, 
who had to see them, too. 

Adamson: Then you never animated from these models? 
You alv/ays had the model sheets? 

Huemer: I think my last actual animation was on 
Snow White . It was a sequence that was cut out , the 
bed-building sequence. That's how V/alt worked. He 
did a lot of buck-shotting around, trying things so 



lOit 



he'd always have a lot of nice wealth to cut from. 
He could alv/ays cut to the bone, so what was left was 
great. And then there was an eating sequence. That 
was completely animated, but also cut out. These 
were real big sequences. 

Adamson: That's the one where Dopey coughs up the 
soap that he swallowed in the other scene, isn't it? 

Huemer: Yes . . . 

Adamson: They showed the pencil tests on television. 

Huemer: That's the TV show I v;orked on. V/e took 
these old drawings and we cleaned them up and shot 
them, so it could be used to shov/ people on TV. These 
are pencil drav/ings, as you recall. You may have 
noticed that it was kind of indistinct and vague in 
spots, and fuzzy. 

Adamson: It was beautiful. It's a great scene! 

Huemer: It's a good sequence. V/ell, that goes to show 
you. Walt had to cut something. And this v/as some- 
thing that didn't tell the story, wasn't necessary. 



105 



Adamson: When did they build beds? 

Huemer : It v;as before Snow White got into trouble 
with the witch. They're all sitting and thinking, 
with a beat — oom-bah-oom-bah-oom-bah-bah, oom-bah-oom- 
bah-oom-bah-bah. And then one dv;arf would say, 'V/hy 
don't we do this,' and the other would yell, 'No!' 
It goes on like that until finally Sleepy yawns and 
says, 'Why don't vie build her a bed?' And then they 
all say, 'Yes! Kooray! We'll build her a bed!' and 
off they go. That's how they started. I remember 
one of the things I animated v;as one of the dwarves 
on top of a pole vfith a chisel, and he sneezed, and 
the force of it projected him down the pole so that 
the chisel carved a scroll. Stuff like that — gags. 
That would have been a good sequence, too. 

Adamson: Hov/ much of that was finished? 

Huemer: Pencil tests. Then he decided he didn't v;ant 
it, so he didn't finish it up. 

Then I became a director and I was moved on to 
Pinocchio . I v/as the first director on Pinocchio . I 
worked on a lot of the opening stuff, where Gepetto 



106 



wants a child so badly and the Blue Fairy comes dovm 
and obliges him and all that. From there I went on 
to Fantasia and story directing. 

Adamson: How did you get into story directing from 
directing? 

Huemer: That's Just a title. As a director, you 
are very much involved in the story anyway. It all 
blends together — you can't really say v/here one leaves 
off. The actual director of the picture was Ben 
Sharpsteen, I think, the over-all director, that is. 
As a story director I was in on the creation of the 
material with V/alt and the rest of the staff. And 
I would occasionally take sections to work out v/ith 
a group. I remember v/hat fun it was working on the 
Tchalkovski stuff, the waltz of the flowers, the 
wonderful leaves and plant stuff, forms. I had this 
little group and I'd visit them every day, and we'd 
sit and talk; that's how a story director v/orks , you 
know. You say, 'V/hat have you done? Hey, that's 
good!' or 'It isn't going to work,' and you talk, 
you toss around ideas, and you get it worked up and 
drawn up to the point where V/alt finally comes in. 



107 



Then he sits dov/n with you and takes it all apart 
or adds nev; stuff, and that's hov; the thing was 
worked out. I remember it was such fun because 
there were three girls doing the story boards and 
they v;ould pick v;eeds in the outside lots and 
bring them in. You'd be surprised hov; good looking 
these things were. They would use them for designs 
and for some of the little characters like the 
thistles. Very interesting. They were a very 
dedicated group. People who v/ork on story boards 
are generally fine artists. Yet they don't knov; 
too much about animation, or ever do get into anima- 
tion. These are what we call story sketch men. 
They are very skilled people. The animators had 
nothing to do v;ith Fantasia until Walt had okayed 
the story boards on the picture and a director v/as 
assigned to it. This particular section, 1 forget 
v/ho directed it, oh, yes, Sam Armstrong. He got the 
boards. They he sat down with the lay-out men v;ho 
laid it out, and timed it, and then the animators 
came In. The animators never had anything to do 
with the story in any form. Not at Disney's. Oh, 
occasionally V/alt would say, 'Let's have a meeting,' 



108 



and everybody In the studio v/ould be there, practi- 
cally. But that v;as unusual, that v/as not the regular 
way of working. 

Adamson: The director was somebody who never sat In 
on story conferences, then. 

Huemer : That's right. Not at first. It would be 
handed over to him. Or he might be at some of the 
very late ones, when we knew exactly what we were 
doing and Walt liked It and we knew we were going to 
make it. Then the director would be called in. As 
it moved along, VJalt never stopped improving it, 
polishing it. That's the beauty of VJalt 's place. 
It was never finished until it was previewed. And 
even then it wasn't finished sometimes. 

Adamson: How long were you on Fanta sia? 

Huemer: All the v;ay through. Let's take for instance 
the Beethoven section. We had a recording by Toscaninl 
to work vflth. The notes are the same no matter who 
plays them, so we figured the timing would be about 
the same too. Toscaninl may have had a different 
Interpretation, some spots might be a little faster 



109 



than another conductor. But that would be the only 
difference — fundamentally we knev; v;hat v/e had to 
deal with in timing. So v;e cut new records and 
made copies for the people who were working on it. 
The group was divided into four different movements, 
and the idea was to play the record and see what 
ideas you vjould get that would fit the music. V/e knew 
what we were basically going to do, because we had 
decided it was going to be about Greek mythology. 
So we had that to start with, before ve even sat down 
with the records: this v;as going to be a thing that 
had to do with Mount Olympus and fawns and all the 
Greek mythological characters, except they would be 
caricatured, they v;ould be funny in spots, like 
Bacchus. So these four different rooms maybe had 
sometimes only tv/o guys working on their part, and 
they would play the record all day and make sketches 
to fit v;hat they thought was best. And I v/ould come 
in every day, and we'd sit together and talk; and I'd 
go into the next room and do the same. And so day 
by day, it would build, slowly build. Finally after 
a week or two we'd have something up there on the 
boards. V/hen you played the record and pointed with 



110 



a pointer at different pictures, you could follovf 
the flow of the story and get some idea of vihat we 
were trying to do. 

Walt wouldn't come in yet. It was really my 
decision when it v/as good enough for him to see. 
You never presented anything to Walt that you weren't 
awfully sure of. You had to have confidence in it 
yourself. 'All right,' I'd say, 'Let's go with this. 
This it it!' Then V/alt would come in and occasionally 
he would say no. But I must say that generally, 
especially on a picture like Fantasia which had to 
do with music and just isn't everybody's cup of tea, 
that he went along with most of it. }Ie had very 
wonderful ideas, of course, he would always have them. 
Then we would noodle up the sketches better. Other, 
better artists would give us an idea of what it might 
look like in color and treatment. And when this was 
done, we had the stuff on the boards with some nice 
colored things and played the record, and you could 
actually see Fantasia right up there. Then a director 
would come in, and it was given to him to make. But 
before he did that we had to go to Philadelphia with 



Ill 



Stokovjskl and record it in his fashion. Walt's 
idea v;as to get the benefit of the way he would 
Interpret it, although he v/as already guided greatly 
by v;hat v;e had planned in the story. We had suggested 
cuts in the Pastoral Symphony. It repeats itself 
all over again, I think in the second movement. So 
we didn't do that; it would have made it too long. 
Little changes like that. We went to Philadelphia, 
to the Academy of Music, where Walt had worked out 
the idea of having nine separate sound tracks. We 
had nine different command posts in the basement of 
the theater, each one recording its own sound track 
from its own mike placed in a different spot in the 
orchestra. An interesting thing about that theater. 
It must have been built sometime after the Civil 
War, and in the basement right underneath the audience 
was a big, round brick wall. Across the top of this 
there were stringers or beams very much like the 
sounding board of an instrument. Now the architects' 
idea v;as that the theater was actually to be a huge 
instrument, that would reverberate or do something 
with the sound on account of this construction beneath 



112 



the floor. Evidently It does help because the 

accoustics in the Academy of Music are supposed to be 

really great. And we had these nine tracks--that ' s 

u 
how we recorded Fantasia . 

A funny incident happened v;hen v/e doing the 

Dance of the Hours. Remernber the hippopotamus dance? 

Stokey said, 'Now I'm going to try to play this 

music funny.' Vlalt and I and the rest of the staff 

sat in the back of the theater and listened to what 

they were doing. And he plays funny music; you knov/, 

da-da-a-a-a, v/ith everybody trying to make funny 

sounds. It was awful. And Stokey finally rapped on 

the stand and said, 'No. Let's forget that. I guess 

there's no such thing as funny music.' So they played 

it straight. Walt had gone along with the experiment 

of having these marvelous musicians trying to be 

funny, blowing strange notes and whatever they were 

doing. But there's no such thing as funny music, if 

anybody should ask you. 

Adamson: Why was it that you and the key story directors 
were taken to Philadelphia? 

Hueraer: We had to know v/hat was going on. That was one 



113 



of Walt's policies, to keep people in on everything, 
to keep the pot boiling. This is an insight into 
Walt, though I've often wondered v/hy we v/ere taken 
to Philadelphia. Once while they v/ere playing they 
did something that I didn't think v/as right, considering 
that I knew the picture about as well as anybody. I 
turned to V/alt after it was over and said, 'I didn't 
like that certain v/hatever it vjas . ' And Walt said, 
'Oh, that's all right. He knov;s what he's doing up 
there. Let's not interfere,' you knov;. So I just 
kept my mouth shut after that, even though I still 
think I was right. There v/as nothing bad; it was 
Just that I thought something could be a little 
better. After all I'm sort of a half-assed musician 
myself. But I guess Walt figured v;e're paying this 
guy $20,000. (or whatever it v/as ) so let's get our 
money's worth. That was it. So you may well ask 
why we went, because that's all we did, we sat there 
while they played for about five days and then we 
came home . 

Adamson: All expenses paid? 

Huemer: Of course. Once in a while Walt v/ould intro- 



114 



duce me as Dick Huemer, 'the guy v/ho knows all the 
good restaurants In Philadelphia.' Simply because 
being a New Yorker, I had gone to Philadelphia once 
In a while, and happened to knov/ several of the 
good restaurants like Bookbinder's. And he couldn't 
get over that, that I knew all the good restaurants 
in Philadelphia! Golly, he had the habit I mentioned 
of cataloguing people. Any little thing like that 
could catalogue you. It would never get out of his 
mind; there was a place where that item v;as stored 
and it vjould never be eradicated. He may be dead 
now, but I bet it's still there! Or he might intro- 
duce me to someone and say, ^Meet Dick Huemer. He 
goes to operas.' That's why I got on Fantasia , inci- 
dentally, because he knev; that I went to operas, 
you see? In my New York days, I used to go to the 
opera. Didn't we all? Didn't v;e all hear Caruso 
and the rest in our day? You bet we did! 

Adamson: Then from that point you v/ere a story 
director? 

Huemer: I never animated again after that. Like I 



115 



said, I'd had it with animation. I told him that 
I didn't want to animate anymore. And, looking at 
my animation, he agreed. No, I'm just kidding. 

Adamson: How many people v^ent to Philadelphia? 

Huemer: There was me, Joe Grant, and Ed Plumb; a 
guy named Chllog, who was his cutter; Bill Garrity, 
who v/as the sound engineer; Walt, of course. Maybe 
a secretary. Maybe some elctricians and men in the 
sound department. Guys that I didn't know. Maybe 
ten, twelve. That's about it. 

Adamson: Did he have anytrouble justifying this? 

Huemer: Are you kidding? V/alt spent the money. If 
Walt had said, 'Take this money and throw it out the 
window,' do you think anybody would question him? 
*Throw it out the windov/! If V/alt says so, that's 
right!' It's like Napoleon; it's his money. No, he 
made all those decisions. He was a real, absolute 
monarch there. V/hy not? He made it. 

Adamson: Who's this Joe Grant person? 

Huemer: Joe Grant and I worked together very closely. 
He was head of the model department. He designed cha- 
racters, like the Queen in Snov/ l'/hite--that ' s the sort 



116 



of thing he did. He was a very good artist. He 
was also very close to Walt. Walt liked his work, 
So you might say that he v;as more than that . He 
was, in a sense, an assistant director to Walt. 
Very close, on all these things. 



Disney finally let him go. Around 1950, somev;here 
in there. 



We actually x-iere sort of a team; did a lot 
of pictures together. Joe was a fine artist and also 
a good story man. Walt used to say that he was a good 
catalyst. I'm not sure he knev/ v/hat that meant, but 
that's what he called him. One who mixed things and 
people together. All during the war v;e made a lot of 



117 



pictures together, like 'The Fuhrer's Face,' with 
the raspberry in it, and 'Education for Death,' about 
how a German child is raised and becomes a hard-core 
Nazi; and 'Reason and Emotion,' little figures inside 
a man's head, a little caveman and a professor with 
glasses — how they fight it out in the guy's brain and 
who vrins — all these v;ar pictures. And particularly 
the thing called 'The New Spirit,' which Joe Grant 
and VJalt and I went to Washington about. Morgenthau 
wanted a picture to sell war bonds, a Donald Duck, 
so we got the story up and flew to V/ashington and 
told it to him. And he bought it. Congress raised 
hell with him for spending money. He v/as very pleased 
when we took the boards to him, ^ery pleased. I 
remember that v/e tried to do it in the Baby Weems 
technique, limited animation. And we actually ran 
Baby V/eems for Morgenthau, and he just shook his 
head and said, 'No, I want the Blue Plate Special.' 
He wanted full animation. Which he finally got. 

Adamson: Were you a fan of limited animation? 

Huemer: Well, Joe Grant and I invented it, actually, 
for Baby Weems. Baby Weems was our story, too. It 



118 



was a sequence In The Reluctant Dragon . But that 
was the first time that limited animation had ever 
been done. It was done because we did it like a 
story, like a book turning pages. And then people 
started saying, 'V/ell, let's do the Baby Weems 
thing,' and that's how the title was originated: 
Baby Weems animation. 

Adamson: Was there any relation between what you 
did for Baby V/eems — the idea of maybe one thing 
moving in the v/hole picture--and the short cuts 
you used to take for Mutt and Jeff? 

Huemer: No, not really. This is a deliberate attempt 
to make a still drawing do the job of animation. It 
was really an effect of these still drawings telling 
the story; we could have just flopped them over with- 
out anything moving, v/hich has been done too. You 
Just have a little bit of movement or a dissolve. I 
wouldn't compare that with the old days. The old 
days we didn't know any better; this we did deliberately 
We could have animated this and it would have been 
beautiful. (Although it was all right the way it is.) 
But the story suggested that kind of treatment, the 



119 



over-all story. 

Robert Benchley just came Into the film as 
an actor. He had nothing whatever to do with the 
story or writing. He just read his lines; even 
though he v/as probably the best humorist in the 
country at the time. V/e didn't use him that vmy 
at all. He wouldn't work at our prices for one 
thing. And then Alexander VJoolcott came in and 
gave us a talk. Walt used to like to do that: have 
famous people come in and talk to us. And all he 
did was tell us stories. Filled the soundstage 
with studio people and just told them stories, which 
were great. He was a very interesting raconteur. 

Adamson: Would he pay the people? 

Huemer: Mo, they v;ould do it of their ov;n accord. 
They would come visiting; everybody in the v/orld beat 
a path to Walt's door. 

Did I tell you about the first time I went to 
work for Vfalt? I was sitting in his sanctum, and 
we v/ere talking; and we were all set, had agreed on 
hov/ much money and everything. V/alt started to tell 
me that he was going to make a cartoon-feature. Mind 
you now, this was in 1933! He was already thinking 



120 



of it. Not only that, but It v;as going to be Snow 
White. He started tell me a little about the story, 
hov7 she eats the poison apple and dies, and hov; as 
she's lying there all the goddamned little animals 
are looking in the windov; v;ith tears rolling dov/n... 
Walt was such a v/onderful actor that my throat started 
to get tight, and my eyes began to get moist — it 
v;as v/onderfull, the way he was telling it. The idea 
of doing a feature was such a brazen, daring idea to 
begin with, in 1933. Then he told me that he might 
also some day like to have some kind of an amusement 
park. You don't have to believe this if you don't 
want to, but he did! Not the v;ay it finally turned 
out, but the idea, the germ, v/as there. And while 
v;e were sitting and talking, in came Charlie Chaplin. 
I almost fell out of the chair, because after all 
Charlie Chaplin ^^;as one of my idols. And behind him 
was another one of my idols, H.G. Wells! They came 
right over and Chaplin very proudly introduced, not 
Walt to V/ells, but VJells to V/alt! 'Here's somebody 
I vfant you to meet, Walt Disney, this great guy 
sitting here.' That was the feeling. It was a 
wonderful experience; but I don't know what they said 
because I left soon after. We once had Frank Lloyd 



121 



Wright there, and we had not yet finished doing the 
Nutcracker Suite, but we had enough of it to show, 
some of the color stuff, and we ran it for him. And 
we v;alted for his reaction. And he shook his head 
and said, 'This is not it.' He didn't like it. And 
he gave Walt a long lecture, he said, 'Walt, you have 
great possibilities. You should go av;ay somewhere 
and purify yourself. Then come back and do something 
wonderful.' And here we thought we had done some- 
thing wonderful. Maybe we had, I don't know, but he 
didn't seem to think so. Of course it didn't throw 
Walt a bit. He didn't care; he knew what he was doing. 

He had Aldous Huxley in on Alice in Wonderland , 
the first five meetings. At which I v/as present. And 
at which, every time he started to say anything, he 
never got anyvfhere , because Walt did all the talking 
and had all the ideas. Actually, Huxley didn't seem 
to have any ideas. He sat there with his one baleful 
eye (he's kind of blind in one eye, I think; even then 
It had a kind of grayish effect), and the only thing 
I can remember him saying was this: Walt was explaining 
something about the entrance of somebody, and suddenly 
Huxley pipes up and says, 'Ah, yes, I see that! Hail 



122 



the Conquering Rabbit comes!' Apropos of nothing, 
Walt just grunted. Then he disappeared. Five 
meetings or so and we never sav/ him again. But 
that's how Walt worked, he was very lavish with 
material and men. Huxley was well paid for those 
five days, I should think. Walt was alway curious 
about people and what they could do. nnd he thought 
he might be able to contribute something being an 
Englishman, and knowing all about Alice in Wonderland , 
which he porbably did. And being a sort of v/himsical 
guy having written Brave New World , which VJalt 
probably never read. Walt wanted to progress and 
improve, and he wanted to draw on the brains of the 
world, if he could. 

He spared no money, no pains to Improve the 
product, ever. He never cut corners, that I can 
recall. Cut salaries once, during the Depression. 
Everybody had to take a cut, but we were willing to 
do that. It was a community enterprise, you know, 
we all had a feeling of love for it — ..hich I still 
do. It ' 3 a wonderful organization. There's never 
been anything like it. Never will be. 

And Walt had art lectures. We ' u all go to 



123 



lectures by good artists, whose names I forget nov/ . 

Adamson: What was there reaction to going into the 
Walt Disney studio? 

Huemer: Well, you know, everybody v/as crazy about Vlalt 
Disney. There was nobody who didn't think Walt was a 
genius. Everybody 'd be willing to do it. Didn't even 
Khrushchev want to go to Disneyland. Everybody! 

Adamson: When you first started working and were anima- 
ting, was he going to the care and expense of making 
pencil tests and filming them for Silly Symphony cartoons? 

Huemer: I told you that on the outside we all thought 
that he had a secret process? If anything that was it. 
He made pencil tests when nobody else made them. He 
was the first guy to do that. He ' u photograph the thing 
In negative and we ran the negative which would be white 
on black, a cheap thing to do. There was no use going 
to a print because you threv^f it away when you were through. 
And then we ran it on a little movieola, in a room about 
four feet square which we called the Sweat Box, appro- 
priately enough. ./e didn't have any projectors. There 
was a main projector down on Soundstage One, I think. 



124 



but we had one movieola, Ihe old-fashioned one with the 
little round glass, not the big square field like you 
have now. A little thing about four inches round. 

Adamson: What could you tell from that? 

Huemer: V/ell, you saw a square picture inside when you 

looked through the round part. You saw it about six, 
seven inches long. 

Adamson: One person at a time? 

Huemer: No, two people could see. Walt would stand 
behind you and you would run the stuff and very enough 
tear it. You know these are pretty crude machines: 
Rrrrp ! There 'd go the test! You'd make a loop of the 
action and you'd keep running that and study it. And 
how could you go wrong? You'd see mistakes which 
other people couldn't see because they animated and 
out it on the screen, and there it was, they v/ere 
stuck with it. But here we could take all the bugs 
out or change it. And then we would assemble the pen- 
cil tests, on a reel so that v/e'd have the whole pic- 
ture in negative white lines on black, and run it with 
sound. So you never v/ent to inking and painting until 
the pencil tests were exactly the way you wanted them. 



125 



Nor did you clean up a rough pencil test until then. 
Sometimes it looked like a b^nch of hay, some guys 
animated so roughly. Fergie had very rough pencil 
tests — like a haystack with beautiful movement, just 
beautiful. That had to be cleaned up, then it v;as 
given to the inker. 

The animator v/orked out the action then handed 
the tings over to an assistant to put in the in-betweens. 
You'd clean up your principal poses then the in-uetvjeener 
would make neat ones in between. Then that was photo- 
graphed, as complete as it ever would be, except it 
was cleaner later. Then it would go to the inker. 
Walt was the first guy to v/ork out that system. 

Adamson: How often v/ere things changed? 

Huemer: Oh, luite a lot. Every time you took a test 
in it v/ould have some changes. I doubt if I ever did 
anything that I recall went right through. Or anybody 
else for that matter. 

Adamson: Did that annoy you, to have to change every- 
thing? 

Huemer: Why should it? We all wanted the same thing. 



126 



we wanted great pictures. ..o, this was a good feeling, 
nobody took offense at the slightest criticism. We 
asked for It, -..e'd go to VJalt and say, 'Walt, in the 
last picture, I wasn't satisfied with something. 
What was \vrong? ' And he would try to tell you... we 
had that Interest in our product. It was like a 
crusade to do the best, and it never seemed good enough, 
I know we were very ambitious in doing things like 
The Goddess of Spring , .^hich v/as a complete failure. 
It was all people, the Grecian fable of Persophone 
and Pluto, you knov; the story of the Underworld and 
going to Hades and all that jazz. And the picture 
was really a hell of a picture without being very 
good. It was one of our more resounding failures. 
This was long before Snow White . This v/as one of the 
last things I worked on as an animator — a Silly Sym- 
phony. It's probably still around. 

One time I resented the fact that some inker 
(who v/as a very skillful person in her own way, of 
course, and I couldn't do inking if I tried) v/ould 
take my drawing and go over the lines, 30 that when 
it was done it was her v/ork and not my original draw- 
ing. I stewed over that, and I thought, 'Why can't 



127 



this be done In some photographic process?' I knew 
nothing of photography, mind you. To this day I don't, 
but it occured to me this would be the only way it 
could be done. Why not shoot each drav/ing that you have 
cleaned up and then it's your drav/ing on the cell, 
and then have them print that thing the v;ay they would 
if somebody had inked it. I had no idea whether this 
could be done, and probably it couldn't at the time. 
But I thought the idea vias right and I went to V/alt 
with it and his answer was no. For one thing v/e didn't 
knovj hov; it could be done; but if you put some genius 
like Iwerks on it perhaps it could have been worked 
out. But he said, 'Even if it could be done, it v/ouldn': 
be desireable because what happens v/hen people ink is 
that it reduces the pictures to all looking the same, 
which is good. V/hereas if you photographed the actual 
drav;ing of each animator, it would all be different, 
because everybody has a different pencil technique,' 
which they did. And he didn't think that was desire- 
able. So the thing v/as dropped right there. This vjas 
way back in 1935, 1 think, v;hen I first thought of it. 
Probably a lot of people did. But I resented the fact 
that I v\fould really work to make nice pencil drav;ings. 



128 



(they were really very nice; you could frame them I 
suppose, not [just] mine but anybody's!), and then 
along came some gal and went phht ! with a lightning 
stroke and phht! took all the guts out of the line 
and the shading and the feeling of it. That's v;hat 
made me think of doing it the other v;ay . Of course 
the Xerox is a different process v;hich, as you know, 
rearranges the molecules or something, and it's not 
actual photography. In effect it takes your exact 
line and so it transfers the same vitality to the 
screen. I think it's tremendous. In The 1000 Dalma - 
tions , he [V/alt] used it entirely for the first time. 
They do it all the time now, in everything. 

Adamson: Hov; long had you had this feeling about 
inkers? 

Huemer: '.Veil, I'd had the feeling since v;e stopped 
inking our ovm stuff on paper. What you drew in 
those days you sav; on the screen. And the minute 
you went to working v/ith backed-up celluloids, why 
then you lost contact v/ith the actual working of the 
artist. So vilth me it dates from about there. It 
really is a blemish in Snow V.'hite, the fact that v/hen 



129 



they Ink they lose a certain amount of accuracy, and 
when you have a slov; motion you get a trembling. 
Naturally this happens because you may put the line 
perfectly in betvieen on your pencil dravvings , but 
when an inker comes along and deviates she can't 
possibly have v;hat you put there, she deviates just 
enough. In Snow VJhite , in the girl's face, you see 
this happen. It shimmers, ..hereas you don't get that 
nov;adays with Xerox. Of course, the in-betv/eeners 
are damn v/ell certain to put their line perfectly 
in between, and it stays there, nobody touches it, 
nobody inks over and moves it a little bit. Even a 
thousandth of an inch may make a difference in a 
very close action. So that's another thing that I 
thought was so terrible about animation in the older 
days, that you got this shimmering in a close action. 
Which is far fron ideal if you v/ant to be a perfection- 
ist about it, [and that's] v;hat we tried to be. 



ET'ID OF IIITERVIEl,-; 



TAPE NUMBER TV/0 : SIDE TWO 



Huemer: Nov;, we'll talk about Disney and one of his 
weaknesses which I consider to be the fact that he was 
never really able to judge men too well. He had a 
habit of taking any given individual and putting him 
into an arbitrary job, giving him a title and expecting 
him to do the job. Walt made most of the decisions 
at the studio. He v/as his ov;n best stroy man. He v;as 
his ovm best editor. He v;as , in a sense, his own best 
animator, because at first he taught us all hovj to ani- 
mate. But too often, in my opinion, he would these 
posts v;ith men who were incapable. For the very reason 
perhaps that it didn't matter. In the last analysis 
he did it just as I said. It remains to be seen, however, 
now that V/alt's been dead these two years, ..hether this 
policy is going to be beneficial to the studio. Has he 
left anyone v;ho can fill the enormous vacancy that remains 
behind him? V/hen v/e v;ere stuck we'd turn to Walt and 
he'd have some wonderful opinion. He'd apply his 'instant 
genius' to the thing. And nov'j he's not here and nobody 



131 



exactly fill in. Hopefully somebody may arise, or 
some combination of men, I don't knov;... 

He v;a3 alv/ays working on story. He vjas forever 
picking your brain, >--ven if you were at a social affair 
v/ith him of something. Anything you said he'd be 
listening to, cocking his ear, ^ou know, and remembering 
everything you said with that marvelous brain that 
never forgot a thing. Not a single thing! This I 
venture to guess was the core of his genius, this 
wonderful memory. And, of course, nis way of reaching 
back into that memory and picking out things and applying 
them right to the heart of any subject. He could go 
right to the nub of the problem, no matter what it v/as . 
Even if it was the design of a uniform for the employees 
at Disneyland, he v;ould have an opinion on it. Nothing 
was too small for him to venture an opinion on and his 
was generally the best one. Oh, n.aybe once out of fifty 
times somebody else v;ould have a better one--generally 
it v;as his. That v;as my boss. 

Adamson: VJhat other animators did you like? 

Huemer: Well, I liked everything that Tex Avery did. 
And I like anything that Chuck Jones ever did. Or any- 



132 



thing Freleng ever did. These guys are geniuses. In 
their own substantial way. And I equate them v;ith V/ard 
Kimball in our studio, who I think is a little old 
cock-eyed, ring-tailed genius type also. And Milt 
Kahl. 

Adamson: How about the Tom and Jerry things? 

Huemer: Quite good. But not as good, to me, as these 
others I mentioned. And then there 'j Dick Williams who 
in my opinion comes closest to creating a poetic feeling 
in animation. Dick is a Canadian vmo v/orks in England. 

Adamson: What did you think of the UPA cartoons? 

Huener: I considered them very clever. They v/ere sort 
of what was called in those days 'way out.' And there 
animation v;as also more limited... it wasn'u as thorough 
as Disney's, as lifelike. It was the antithesis of 
Disney. In other v;ords I think they v/ere both cutting 
corners and doing impressionistic animation. But they 
had some good pictures; 'Gerald McBoingBoing v/as a great 
story. The original was by Doc Seuss who by the way was 
on the Disney staff briefly during the war. Doc Seuss' 
story was foolproof. And when they did Magoo they had 
a good voice to base It on. 



133 



Adamson: That was Jim Backus. 

Huemer: That ' .3 right. They had an unusual voice to start 
with. When you have a solid thing like that you're half- 
v/ay home. Like when you have Donald Duck's voice, you 
know, you're there. All things being equal you're bound 
to have a pretty good picture. .nnd Backus certainly 
helped to make Magoo. They had some very good animators 
there, of course. Hubley was one, and Art Babbit, too. 
I didn't have anything at all to do with UPA^ I just 
approved of it from a distance. 

Adamson: Ilubley viorked at Disney's for a v;hile, oidn't 
he? He was on Fantasia , v;asn't he? 

Huemer: Yes. Quiet sort of guy, seemed to be. With a 
great interest in social matters, socialistic, I mean. 
He v;as considered to be a little to the left, which in 
those days we were somewhat shocked at. Nov/adays v;ho 
isn't a little liberal. But in those days... well! Walt 
you knovi was definitely to the right. He couldn't abide 
those blokes who were tinged v;ith a little pink. 

Adamson: He was very concerned about the political 
opinions of his employees? 



134 



Huemer: Yes, he v;as . Remember v/hen this v/rlter was 
running for the governorship of California? Upton Sin- 
clair? He had a new idea, a sort of socialistic share- 
the-v;ealth scheme. I remember V/alt had Gunther Lessing 
give a talk to the staff to try and sway us to vote 
against Upton Sinclair. One thing about V/alt though. 
Regardless of political opinions or religious convictions 
or whatever, his first consideration was what a person 
could contribute to the atudio and the product. He was 
alv/ays willing to give the benefit of the doubt, and 
very liberal with those v;hom he employed. I think he 
would have used the Devil himself if he were a great 
animator. He had what practically amounted to a mild 
'entertainment monomania. ' And he revrarded the good 
workers . 

In 'The Waltz of the Flowers' v;e used special 
eels that had a tooth or roughness to them, and when 
we v/orked the color over that surface it gave the effect 
of pastel. If you look at the film, .lext time you see 
it, see if you don't get the feeling of pastel drav/ings 
in motion. Elmer Plummer did the story sketches, black 
paper with pastel which gave a very grainy effect. You 
can tell it'j pastel and not flat water color or paint. 



135 



Walt very much wanted to retain that effect on the 
screen, .;o they cast around till they could get a eel 
with a rough surface. It looks just like pastel in 
operation. A very lovely effect and another first for 
Disney. 

Adamson: Did this come up in the story conferences? 

Huemer: Sometimes, sometimes not. V/alt would say, 
'We've got a certain look to these story sketches, a 
pastel look. It's good. How can v/e retain it,' as much 
as saying, 'That's an order,' and somebody would go 
ahead and v;ork it out. Walt, of course, had other things 
to do, and v/hoever v/as assigned to it would jolly v/ell 
work it out. Walt would leave it in your lap, like he 
did to me in the dinosaur sequence in 'The Rite of Spring. ' 
After a meeting v;hich v/asn't too satisfactory, he said, 
'Well, I leave it in your lap, Dick. Work it out!' And 
it was work it out and no excuses. So I worked it out. 
You can imagine that there 'a nothing to start with, except 
for the music, only blank boards and a lot of dinosaurs. 
What do they do? What does this music suggest to you? 
It suggests a fight. This v/ailing music suggests the 
trek of the dinosaurs seeking water from the dried land' 
where the mountains have risen and the earth has dried. 



136 



the swamps drained. ., .they have to go find v/ater. 
Stravinsky' J music suggested this eerie, mournful scene 
of staggering through the swirling dust. You see some 
fall dead and others struggle on. They become silhou- 
ettes in the murk. We envisualize their extinction to 
the strains of the music. 

Adamson: VJhat basis did you v/ork this out on? Did you 
do any research as far as constructing or creating the 
sequence? 

Huemer: Of course. ■..'e had to get books on dinosaurs and 
learn all about them and hov; to draw them, according to 
authorities. Bill Steamer was very good at drawing these 
things. He made all the inspirational drawings. Particu- 
larly impressive, I remember, besides the dinosaur stuff, 
was the formation of the earth where the red-.^ot crust 
is bubbling and volcanoes overflov/ and lava runs down the 
mountain sides into the sea and the hissing steam sv/irls 
up. Steamer was very good at making those original 
sketches, o^sat impressive drawings in pastel where you 
could feel the heat. It v;as remarkable how those directors 
who followed up were able to duplicate what those story 
drawings looked like. And it was a case of they Jolly well 



137 



had better, because Walt said, 'That'j what they should 
look like^ this is great, this is the feeling I want.' 

Adamson: Actually he did the 'Sorcerer's Apprentice' 
sequence before he actually got the idea for the v;hole 
feature, didn't he? 

Huemer: Yes, quite a v/hile before. 

Adamson: V/as it finished? 

Huemer: It v;as all finished, in the can. 

Adamson: Inked and painted and no idead what to do with 
It? 

Huemer: The idea, as far as I knov;, for the v;hole feature 
hadn't been thought of yet. That is making a v/hole feature 
based on the [musical] classics. Evidently after seeing 
'The Sorcerer' Walt thought, 'Well, ..hy not? If this is 
so good, let's take other great music and the same treat- 
ment.' So we did it. 

Adamson: You didn't work on 'The Sorcerer's Apprentice?' 

Huemer: No. Incidentally, it was a beautiful lay-out 
job done by Tom Codrick, on whom I pin much of the success 
of that segment. That's only my personal opinion, but I 



138 



remember seeing thumbnail storyboards of the v;hole thing 
where you could go through the whole thing fit to the 
music and almost get the effect of [full] animation. 
Beautiful job. 

Adamson: The whole 'Sorcerer'^ Aprentice' sequence? 

Huemer: Yes, in color, even. It v;as one of the nicest 
jobs I'd seen up to then. It was produced by Perce 
Pearce, .;ho dropped dead of a heart attack in London in 
1955. 

Adamson: You mean you pin the whole... 

Huemer: Well, no, I don't Intend to pin all the glory on 
Codrick. There were good animators on it. Frank Thomas 
was on it; he ' 3 still on of Disney's top animators. 

Adamson: Tell me something about the research you had to 
do for the dinosaur sequence, and the microscopic organisms? 

Huemer: Well, there ' 3 nothing to tell, you can find all 
that material in books. 

Adamson: Did you do that? 

Huemer: Yes, that was part of my job, and the staff's. 



139 



We were also influenced a great deal by a fellow named 
Knight, K-N-I-G-PI-T, who illustrated these things that 
were Issued by the Union Oil Company, some giveav;ay 
gimmick at gas stations . You may have seen them--we 
were greatly indebted to those. Steamer and a guy 
named Major were the fellows who did a lot of the pre- 
liminary sketches. These inspirational sketches were 
terribly important. In any picture, you can't overes- 
timate them. And again when vie had the storyboards up, 
you could paly the music and get the sense of the v/hole 
picture right there. It was up to the animator and the 
director then to put the right weight and feeling into 
the dinosaurs. 

In the dinosaur fight, ..e animated them as if they 
were creatures capable of pretty fast movement. As a 
matter of fact, maybe they weren't. I found that out 
later, ^ut even so it'o conjectural, isn't it? Being so 
heavy and unv/ieldy a dinosaur fight was probably like 
two turtles battling. We didn't know and we had to do 
it all in the framework established by the music. And 
from the chords and musical configurations vie got light- 
ning-liice thrusts or lunges. V/e didn't care too much 
about the scientific end of it; we were being entertain- 



1^0 



Ing. 

Adamson: Well, the program mentions all these people, 
Andrevjs and Julian Huxley and others. V/hat did they do? 
What was their function? 

Huemer: They never came to the studio if that's what you 
mean. 

Adamson: It [the program] claims they v/ere there and sav; 
you through the whole production. 

Huemer: I didn't see them! If the program says that, I 
never read it. 

Adamson: It says they were associates and helped you 
check scientific accuracy, your authenticity. 

Huemer: Well, maybe somebody asked them. Maybe V.'alt did. 
I wasn't there vihen it happened. It wasn't too important 
once we had the basic facts in hand. Believe me, it wasn't 
important at all. 

Adamson: So as far as research goes you just what had been 
written about them in books? 

Huemer: Sure, that's right. And that was suprlsingly little. 



lill 



Adamson: And It's all specualtlon, right? 

Huemer: Oh, of course. There were certain things: we 
could tell the shape and the size pretty well, because 
they've put bones together. 

Adamson: How did you know that they were reptiles? That 
they had oily skin? 

Huemer: From petrified or ossified or v/hatever happens 
remnants of skin. Many impressions in stone of skin have 
been found. 

Adamson: Another thing they mention in the program are 
the special effect in 'The Nutcracker Suite.' 

Huemer: They used multi-plane. But multi-^^lane was not 
an effect that v;e hadn't used before, i::any times. 

Adamson: This Pastoral Symphony was your idea? 

Huemer: Did I tell you about how we v;ere going to use 
something called Piern^ from a French musical comedy or 
operetta called 'Cydalese et le Chevre Pied.' It was a 
number called the 'Entrance of the Little Fauns.' It 
only ran three riinutes and we had a Victor record of it. 



1^12 



US 

And that's v/hat gave |i»- the idea of using Greek mythology 

and Its creatures. Fauns and Centaurs (from which we 
evolved Centaurettes) and all the Pantheology. Joe Grant 
and I worked v;ith it quite a while, but we couldn't find 
any visual contact. It v;as very strange music. If you 
ever get a hold of it and play it, ^ou'll love it I'm 
sure. It goes like this . . . [Huemer hummed the tune]... 
and it bounces along without stopping, .lever a pause or 
slowdown. So it didn't give us any kind of a handle or 
contrasting phraseology. You have to have phrases to v;ork 
with v/hen you transpose v:omething from music to animation. 
You've got to have resting points, in other words, and we 
found none. 'Jhls music xvould just go straight ahead. 
We couldn't stop it, ..e couldn't cut it, and here come 
the fauns, and here come the Centaurs, and here comes 
Jove throwing thunderbolts ... v.e couldn't find a place to 
put all this fine pictorial material in. So Joe and I 
looked around for another piece of music and decided on 
Beethoven, the Pastoral Symphony, which is about someone's 
feelings on their journey into the country, and other 
bucolic matters. So we went ahead and laid it out and pre- 
sented it to V/alt and he v/ent along v;ith it . But Stokowski 
didn't like it at all. He said, 'Beethoven didn't mean 
this, he meant human reactions and their salubrious feelings.' 



1^13 



But somehov; we brushed aside his objections and v/ent 
ahead. So that'o how that came about. And v/e've been 
criticized for it, as you may have heard, in reviews 
and such. 

Adamson: Hov/ come? 

Huemer: V/ell, just as Stokowski thought, some didn't 
consider our treatment apporpriate. Although I still do, 
and it's a fait accompli , it's finished. 

Adamson: At v;hat point were the inspirational drawings 
done? 

Huemer: V/e decided to do the 'Little Fauns' which suggests 
fauns, not deer fawns, but little men half-goats v;ith 
horns. Pan was a faun, ..asn't he? So this suggested a 
story-line. Actually the story of Cydalese has something 
to do with Pan or some other mythical creature v;ho gets 
mixed up ivith a female human. I never sav; the operetta. 
We assumed a lot and that gave us a cast of creatures. 
Bacchus, Minerva, and Jupiter, and all those other minor 
characters, plus centaurs and centaurettes , and even a 
little colored centaurette, and Cupids, of course. So 
we had assembled a casr with no place to go if we dropped 
the idea of Cydalese entirely. So they v;ent into Beet- 



Iil4 



hoven. Personally I like it; I'm sticking with it. 

'Yen-Sid the Great Magician' [in 'The Sorcerer's 
Apprectice'] was Disney '^ name spelled backwards. Deems 
Taylor calls him that in his introduction to the 'Sorcer- 
er'.: Apprentice.' 

The characters in 'Night on Bald I'lountain' were care- 
fully laid out by character model men, as to their looks 
and their dance, it v/as worked out in live action as many 
of the things at the studio were. Did you know that Snow 
White , for instance, ..as all acted out first by Majorie 
Belcher with a costume on? 

Adamson: On the Rotascope... 

Huemer: On the Rotascope, right. Well, the dancing 
ghouls in 'Bare Mountain' uas a similar operation. 

Adamson: Hov/ did they do that? Bring in little gremlins? 

Huemer: Size has nothing to do with it. You can reduce 
it. 

Adamson: I mean were these people dressed in gremlin suits? 

Huemer: What they looked like wasn't important either. 
All we v;ere after was the live action, and you could take 
human live action and make a pig out of it if you v/anted to. 



145 



You v/anted the feeling and flov; of the action, Lhe timing 
and spacing of the movement v;hlch is contained in live 
action. Since you take drav/lngs out here and there, they 
didn't have to look like gremlins. In the Dance of the 
Hours v;e very carefully laid out the v;hole thing v;ith 
dancing girls, the whole ballet v/ith ballerinas in tutus, 
ballet slippers, the v;hole thing. Joyce Cole v/as the 
ballet master. And then this v;as handed over to the 
animator and v/here there was a girl he drew a hippo 
or an ostrich. So this is the same thing, ^ ou see, it 
doesn't matter v;hat the person looks like, you can make 
a gremlin, a turtle, and eagle, anything out of him. 
Another thing: the size of the head was alv/ays enlarged 
in human figures, ^ecause the proportion of the human 
head to the body is not a cartoon proportion. And the 
whole figure v/as simplified, of course. 

To my mind the whole shov/ was stolen by the evil 
character on top of the mountain, the Devil who surmnons 
everybody up to his revel, dead people from the moats, 
ghosts from the graveyard. You enjoy [watching] the 
mischievous character more. So it v;as kind of an anti- 
climax v/hen we came to the Ave Maria at the end of it. 
Actually there V7as a thing that we consider a mistake in 
Ave Maria. There's one point v/here a line of little 



146 



characters are v^alklng along carrying v/hat look like 
targets. But it's not a target, it'.: just a badly 
drawn torch v;ith the illumination from the flame 
spreading out. It's still there; so let's say it's a 
stylized torch and excuse it that way. 

Adamson: What about the Toccata and Fugue, Mr. Huemer? 

Huemer: I don't think we vier quite ready for it, myself. 
I think it '3 easily the weakest thing in Fantasia , I 
don't knov; how you feel about it. Not musically, rusically 
it's great. Stokowski's arrangement is beautiful. But 
to me it's a little dinky. All the little things dancing 
around, it isn't clever or imaginative enough to be a 
good interpretation. 

Adamson: V/hy do you think you would do it better today? 

Huemer: That's a good question. You'd have to think 
very carefully about what to do, get a different interpre- 
tation of it. 

Adamson: Do you think people are more ready for that 
today? 

Huemer: Yes, I do . I think abstract stuff is done m»ore 
today... and real v/ell. That v;a5 probably the first time 



147 



it had been done in the big time so to speak. It has 
been done in a small way by Fischlnger. He came to the 
studio to v;ork on it at first, and didn't last very 
long, because v/hat he contributed were these little 
things dancing dinkily. The sort of thing he had been 
doing. It was not the thing for us to do. We had 
to be above little dinky things dancing. 

Adamson: This is Fischinger's design? 

Huemer: Fischinger v/as a contributor, he couldn't do it 
all be himself. He worked at his board and he drevf what 
he thought was called for. Then it was taken and finished 
by other people. The director, Sam Armstrong, then took 
the music and made it more his own, v;ith big church v;indov;s 
rising up, Gothic things and shapes the music seemed to 
suggest and all the other fantasies of Interpretation. 

Adamson: But it was Flschlnger's design, basically? 

Huemer: No. He started the project, and some flavor of 
it was retained. But not much really. I vjouldn't say he 
dominated it at all. Far from it. I've never given it 
that much thought since, ^ut I'm sure v;e could come up 
with something that would benefit and honor the music a 
lot more than that treatment did. It was fairly criticized. 



148 



too. I sav/ the thing ten years ago and it'., the one 
thing that made me scrounge dov/n in my seat v;hen it 
came along. But for its day, I suppose it was ahead 
of its time in a way. 

Adamson: Did Ave Maria seem a let down to you then? 

Huemer: No, not generally. It was Walt's idea to por- 
tray the triumphant return of holiness and sanity after 
a night of orgy and evil. That ' ^ a good thought, still 
good, I think. Perhaps it was a let down pictorially 
but not musically. Because after all the excitement 
and horror that you heard and sav/ on Bald I'lountain, 
the clashing noise of that really evil music, it was a 
relief to come to something soothing and beautiful. The 
music was great but 1 don't think we did a good job on 
that Ave Maria... a beautiful job on Bald Mountain though. 

Speaking of 'The Rite of Spring,' in my opinion, 
dinosaurs v;ill never again be represented that v/ell on 
the screen again. It was a really perfect job of anima- 
tion, the mood, the coloring, everything. I don't think 
that Bald Mountain could ever be done as well either. 
And also most of the Nutcracker Suite is, I think, perfect 
And there are things in Beethoven v/hich are great, like 
the storm sequence which I consider very good. I don't 



1^9 



particularly care for some parts of it such as the drunken 
Bacchus stuff. And 'The Dance of the Hours' is unquestion- 
ably a classic. 

Adamson: Do you think that Fantasia will ever be de throned 
from the summit of animation? 

Huemer: I don't think anyone could afford it again. Things 
are too costly nov;, a lot of things villi probably never be 
done after the Disney era. I venture to say that a hundred 
years from nov; whoever hears this may back me up in saying 
that they still will not have equaled some of these bits 
of animation vihich Disney fostered. On the other hand, 
you never know, maybe they v;ill. Nov/adays, it's mostly a 
matter of economics. 

Adamson: Fantasia v;asn' t . . . let ' s say as profitable as it 
should have been, was it? 

Huemer: No, it didn't start off with much of a bang, 
but since then it has recouped. Anyv;ay it's a feather in 
Walt's cap; it's one of his great pictures. 

Adamson: Artistically. But didn't he have a financial 
problem at the time? 

Huemer: Yes, after that there v;ere tight times for him. 



150 



Adamson: After he spent all that money and failed to 
make it back. 

Huemer: I believe that, up to the beginning of the v/ar, 
Walt was in serious financial difficulties. When the 
war came along, he got a lot of war contracts, cost plus 
or whatever the system was. And that kept him handily 
afloat. But I do believe he would have been in very 
serious trouble if the war hadn'c come along when it 
did. Then he had another crisis after the war, around 
the time of Cinderella vjhen he said at a m.eeting, 'Boys, 
If Cinderella doesn't make it, we're through!' P.S. It 
wen t . Cinderella v;as a success. 

Adamson: Do you still feel that this v;as the summit of 
animation? 

Huemer: Hov; can you arbitrarily say that? Depends. If 
you look at any one of his pictures, it will contain some- 
thing fine. Everybody has his own Disney favorite. You 
can't get away from the fact that Snow White has a tremen- 
dous Impact even today. Even v;ith all its jittery anima- 
tion in the close-ups. Snow V/hite is a great picture; and 
if all of Walt's pictures were to be destroyed except one, 
I'd have a hard time answering that. I might very well say 



151 



Snow White . Emotionally it's great, a perfect story! 
Too bad they didn't have Xerox then. 

Adamson: Where's the story that Dumbo comes from? 

Kuemer: I never saw it, but they say it was on a little 
strip that was given away on a cereal box. Or maybe it 
was even printed on the outside, I don't, know. But it 
had the basic elements of the story: x,he little elephant 
who had big ears, was made fun of, learned to fly, and 
v/as redeem.ed. All in just a few panels. V/ell, ..e took 
It from there, uad a few story meetings, then Joe Grant 
and I v/rote it up a chapter at a time and submitted it 
to Walt. He used to come down and say, 'That's coming 
along good. We'xl make it!' We got sketch men and story 
men and went to v;ork and put together what we call a 
Leica reel. Did you ever run into that before? 

Adamson: Leica? 

Huemer: A Leica reel was a v;ay of presenting a story- 
board with the individual pictures on filmstrip that was 
run through a Leica projector. You'd flip over a picture 
and talk about it, then flip over the next. You could 
visualize the story quite v;ell. Come to think of it, 
we did some of Fantasia that way, but I don't think they 



152 



use it any more. 

Adamson: So you did sketches... 

Huemer: Which v;ere photographed onto 35ram film. 'Here 
Dumbo comes in. .. click !... and there's his mother ... click !. . 
and she picks him up ... click !.,. and the ringmaster enters,' 
and so on. 

Adamson: And you show these to v;hom? 

Huemer: To Walt. This was how we often held a story meet- 
ing. Sometimes we had rough Leica reels in pencil, and 
later vje would film them out and make a color reel. And 
you almost have the feeling of an animated reel, a full 
scene . 

Adamson: When you first got Dumbo , what form was it in? 

Huemer: Somebody had started working on it and there were 
quite a few sketches that I remember, but no storyboards 
yet. Mostly talk, {;;:ettlng together with V/alt, and taking 
notes, and studying them. Dumbo was put aside a while to 
concentrate on another picture, I suppose, ohen Joe Grant 
and I picked it up. 

Adamson: On your ovm initiative? 



153 



Huemer: Yes, v/e were allowed to, even encouraged by 
Walt: 'See what you can get.' He was very good about 
that. Sometimes, you dldn^t knov/, but tv;o or three 
other guys might have been assigned to the same thing. 
V/alt had a trick of pitting men against each other 
that way; he loved that kind of conflict. In fact, it 
annoyed him when men got along together too v;ell. He 
thought rivalry was good, it made sparks, it stimulated 
people. 

Adamson: How long v;as this version that you and Joe Grant 
did together? 

Huemer: It was about that thick. [Huemer indicated half 
and inch v;ith his tv;o fingers.] With extra long papers, 
great big long ones. It has all the basic elements. Not 
that we had made them all up; some had been talked about. 

Adamson: How closely did it stick to this story when you 
finally did it? 

Huemer: V/ell, aothing ever sticks closely. A picture's 
a thing that grov/s like a snowball. Everybody adds to it, 
the director, the animator. And then v/hen it's done, it 
can still be added too. So it's hard to say. 



15^ 



After V/alt had read the article in Time M acazine 
in 19^1 about Dumbo , he met Joe Grant and myself in the 
lot and indicated his displeasure. He didn't think it 
was a very good article, not particularly flattering to 
him. As he turned av;ay he said, 'V/hat the hell, didn't 
I have anythign to do with the picture?' v/hich is v;hat 
the v/rite-up sounds like I must admit. But in a sense 
it v;as partly true, he didn't have as much to do v/ith it 
as he did v;ith his otlier pictures. And sometim.es his 
withdrawal from a picture didn't v;ork out too v;ell. For 
instance, he didn't have much to do with Sleeping Beauty , 
and to me it is one of our poorest pictures mostly for 
that reason. 

Adamson: V/hy didn't he? 

Huemer: He couldn'i; get interested in it. That's my 
opinion, again. Oh, he didn';: stay away entirely, no more 
than he did v;ith Dumbo . He was dovm in South America 
while Dumbo was being made. But, no, he couldn't v;arm up 
to Sleeping Beauty ; neither can I for that matter, I 
still can't. I think it's an extremely vapid picture. 

Adamson: Why was it done if he couldn't warm up to it? 



155 



Huerner: Well, a lot of reasons. 1 mean you've got a 
staff to keep busy. You've got to do something. And 
once they were under v/ay , no one cared to think that it 
would turn out all that ineffectual. There's always 
the eternal hope that it'll be great. That's inherent 
in everything you do. V/hat they did on that picture, 
which was wrong I think, was that the animators got it 
into their heads that the appearance of the characters 
v/as so important. I remember one of them. It v;as Mark 
Davis, pointing out that they had a v;hole new concept 
of design on these characters, and if you study some of 
the drawings which are in the book I lent you, notice 
the crispness or designey quality of her hair or of the 
drapery. How it falls and curls this way, all very care- 
fully worked out. They thought this was important 
v;hich in its own way it was. But vjhat was more important 
was that they didn't have a good story. I mean they 
didn't have one with the guts that it should have, or heart 
appeal or novelty or comedy. Again, my opinion. 

Adamson: How v/ere the songs combined with the story? Did 
you include in your original synopsis, places where songs 
might go and v;hat sort of songs they might be? 

Huemer: I can remember one particularly, and that v/as in 



156- 



the Pink Elephant sequence. That feeling is written in 
there, of a musical nightmare, Ned Washington wrote the 
lyrics, and he would be In on the story meetings and 
would present his songs, you knov/, he ' u tap them out. 
Walt didn't have quite the grasp of music that he had 
of other things. That was one place where he was some- 
what at the mercy of his musicians and lyric writers. 
If there was a poor lyric, ..e couldn't say, 'V/ell, why 
don't we have so-and-so,' because he wasn't a great poet 
or rhymester, which it takes to be a lyricist, I guess. 
Nevertheless, it was he who came up with the line: 'It's 
a Zippedy-doo-dah Day,' which became a hit in 'Song of 
the South.' But generally he just okayed (or didn't okay) 
a lyric or melody, A songwriter would mostly put his ovm 
work through just about the way he had written it. But 
he had to make it fit, v;hich could always be done, of course 
I've done that sort of thing myself, on occasion. Vie 
would say, 'Let's write a song... a mother song for when 
she's chained up and Dumbo comes to visit her.' V/ell, 
naturally there's some heart-breaking type of lyric indi- 
cated, and Ned Washington came up with 'Baby mine don't you 
cry...' A heartbreaker . 

Adamson: And the opening scene, that stork? 



157 



Huemer: Yes. It was suggested in a story meeting that 
we would shov/ the stork v/ith the baby looking for Mrs. 
Dumbo [Jumbo] to deliver It to, and v;e thought, 'Why 
not have a song to set up the stork on his mission.' So 
Ned Washington came up with 'Look out for Mr. Stork... 
that funny little chap... he '11 come along and drop... a 
baby in your lap.' and so forth. 

Adamson: Why did the song on the stork have one idea, 
which was look out for the stork, and yet what was shown 
was a completely different idea: everyone's pleased as 
punch ! ? 

Huemer: Oh, chat doesn't matter. A lyric like that is 
atmospheric. It gives you a comic slant on the stork and 
his business, and also the story point--the coming of 
Dumbo. There are some songs v;hich are largely production 
songs, telling a story or making a point, like 'V/hen I 
See an Elephant Fly' which loses a great deal out of con- 
text. It advanced the story; that's what we call a pro- 
uuction song. V/hereas the stork number was just a nice 
opening theme v;lth storm and stork flying, it gave you a 
nice feeling. We often did that. We were being entertain- 
ing. 



158 



Adamson: The fact that the tv/o moods conflicted... 

Huemer: I don'c think they did. lou're the first to 
say that. You've been analyzing it too much. Listen to 
the rest of the words: 'You may be poor or rich... it 
doesn't matter v^/hich .. .millionaires get pairs like the 
butcher or the baker...' It'j just a song about some- 
body going to deliver a baby. 'He'll find you In China 
or he'll go to County Cork, so you better look out for 
Mr. Stork! ' 

In the case of 'V/hen I see an Elephant Fly' again the 
song arose out of the situation--Timothy trying to make 
Dumbo fly and the crov/s ridiculing him. It v;as based on 
an expression, 'I'll believe that v;hen elephants fly,' a 
clever retort people made back in 1910. 

Adamson: Really? 

Huemer: Yes, that's the expression: 'That'll happen when 
elephants fly.' And other cracks along those lines: I 
saw a brov/nstone stoop, I saw a banana stand, etc. Remem- 
ber those sayings? Did you ever hear a fireside chat? Ha, 
ha! 

Adamson: Were they all made up by the songv;riter? 



159 



Huemer: I would say that most of them v;ere compiled by 
the lyric v/rlter. 

Adamson: Really? 

Huemer: Yeah, sure. There you go again doubting me! 

Adamson: v;hy is there such a proliferation of villains in 
Dumbo ? 

Huemer: Well, villainy makes a background for the goodness 
of the good characters, doesn't it? It brings out the fact 
that the mother had to struggle in this nasty world, where 
everything is stacked against her. And little Timothy, the 
last guy you'd expect to help, the traditional enemy of 
little elephants (which is biologically true, of course) 
turns out to be the great benefactor. And in the end every- 
body is proud of Dumbo. 

Adamson: Yes, but only after he's proved himself. 

Huemer: Well, let's say that it's melodrama. 

Adamson: V/ell, it seems a very sardonic view of the v/orld. 

Huemer: Well, you'll find that ' o how I am. I see no pre- 
ponderance of good in it. Which is realistic. But we won't 



160 



go into that. 

Adamson: Go Into it. 

Huemer: A hundred years from now, it'll all be settled, 
we'll all be blown up. Think of it! There'll be nobody 
to read this thing. All this work for nothing! 

Adamson: Do you think that the film reflects your ov/n 
outlook? 

Huemer: I don'r say it's all my fault. No one man had 
that big an effect on it. Disney characters, and I don't 
mean chromatically, are alv;ays black and v/hite, drav/n 
very sharply, no grays. You're a villain or you're not. 
That was his formula, anyv/ay . As a matter of fact, it's 
characteristic of our medium — that ' 3 how cartoons have to 
be. Otherwise, they're v/ishy-washy ; again, in my opinion. 

Adamson: Yes, but if you look at Snovj VJhite there's only 
one villain. 

Huemer: Well, that ' o hov/ the story was. 

Adamson: If you look at Pinocchio , it's about half and half, 
In Dumbo there is quite a paucity of sympathetic characters. 



161 



Huemer: Did it bother you? 

Adamson: No, it didn't bother me. 

Huemer: It was entertaining , v/asn't it? 

Adamson: Oh, yeah. I thought it reflected an outlook. 

Huemer: Not entirely. It'o inherent in the story. It's 
the story of an elephant that v;as born a cripple. Naturally, 
everything is stacked against him; the v;hole world is 
stacked against a cripple, isn't it? That's the situation, 
and if you don't shov/ him battling against this situation, 
then you don't have conflict, do you? So in a picture 
which shov/s a cripple or a freak, you're more apt to have 
nasty people. The situation of the crov;s picking on 
little Dumbo was there already. Either dialogue or song 
would do; but a song would be an oblique v;ay of doing it, 
a pleasanter v/ay, a cleverer way, a much more entertaining 
way, ohan just saying, 'Look; who's trying to fly?' In 
a song you can bring out all these points painlessly. 

Adamson: Then there was the idea of ending the movie... 

Huemer: The music? The idea of using a reprise like 
the 'Elephant Flying' song is standard musical comedy 
procedure. And when you think about songs in the picture 



162 



that'. J the one that has the best beat, -^ good lively 
beat. That's a very good quality to end the picture 
with, and that ' j why v;e did it. 

Adamson: V/ho did the voices for the crows? 

Huemer: Let me think about that. Oh yes, it v;as a 
colored group from the Hall-Johnson Choir. 

Adamson: Did they react to the Negro stereotype busi- 
ness that you had indicated? 

Huemer: You mean did they react unfavorably ? 

Adamson: Did it offend them? 

Huemer: Not at all. 

Adamson: Did they think it v/as very funny, or v;hat? 

Huemer: Yes, they did, they liked it very much and en- 
joyed doing it hugely. They even offered suggestions, and 
we used some of their ideas, lines of dialogue or v/ords , 
little touches. Happens all the time when you're making 
a picture. Somebody v;ill suggest an improvement. The [nev;] 
material keeps accumulating all the time. 

I don'u think the crovi sequence is derogatory. In 
fact, -..hen someone mentioned the possibility to me, I was 



163 



quite taken aback. I never gave that angle a thought; 
and I still don't. But this may be part of v/hy the 
studio hasn't re-released it lately; I don't knov/ . 

Adamson: That may pass. 

Huemer: Of course, it v;ill. There's nothing deroga- 
tory anyv;here in the sequence. It's damn cute! 

Adamson: V/hen did you first hear anybody question it? 

Huemer: Never actually ... not until this present unrest 
began a fev; years back. 1 don't remember the exact cir- 
cumstnaces. I think someone just mentioned the possibi- 
lity. 

Adamson: You had a Negro in Fantasia , too, didn't you? 

Huemer: One of the little centaurettes in Beethoven was 
a little colored girl. That is the top of her body was 
a colored girl, the rest was a Zebra, and she v/as the 
maid. While one of the centaurettes was primping the 
little maid v;as handing her a powder puff and holding up 
a mirror. But, you see, v;e were using her in that capa- 
city; that's the only place she appears. 

Adamson: You had absolutely no kickback from that at the 



I6i| 



time? 

Huemer: Nothing. I don't think many of them sav; the 
picture. 

Adamson: Did you ever think of leaving Disney? 

Huemer: Yes. During the war, Joe Grant and I were 
finally at odds with V/alt and he with us, and we thought 
vie ought to leave. We went over to see Quimby at MGI4 
Studios and started arranging a deal. Actually we did 
arrange one and were all prepared to go over and work 
for Quimby. And Walt heard about. You see, auring the 
war you weren't allowed to change jobs; and employers 
were obliged to tell a competitor when men were thinking 
of changing jobs, which Quimby did. Or at least V/alt 
found out somehov; and he forbade us to leave. So that'o 
the nearest vie came to leaving at any time. We finished 
out our contracts. 

Adamson: Did you ever think of leaving after that? 

Huemer: Not seriously, no. It was a pleasant place to 
work. It was still a great big Santa's V/orkshop, you knov; 

Adamson: V/ere you going to do the same sort of thing 
over at Quimby 's? 



165 



Huemer: Yes. Joe Grant and I would have been producers, 
like Hanna and Barbera v;ho were goint^ great guns at the 
time doing Tom & Jerry. Tex Avery was also a producer 
over there. 

Adamson: Producer? 

Huemer: By producer, 1 mean he would make his ov/n picture 
and direct it. In effect, that was producing. They didn't 
give him the title, but his operation v;as that of a pro- 
ducer. Quimby v;as the official producer of all MGM cartoons 
but he contributed nothing creatively. 

Adamson: So you v;ould have gone back to directing, in effect? 

Huemer: Not animating! God forbid! Moving that character 
across the paper?! V/hew!! 

Adamson: VJhy did you pick Quimby? 

Huemer: Well, his outfit was doing the nearest thing, we 
thought, to v/hat Walt was doing. He had Harman and Ising 
working for him and they were quite close to Walt in 
their operation, having been v;ith him. Never once got 
even close, but they were trying. And we heard that MGil 
v/asn't a sweatshop like V/arner's. • 



166 



Adamson: Hov/ do you mean sweatshop? 

Huemer: They didn't pay well. It was a case of grinding 
them out like sausages. Apparently, all Schlesinger, 
cared about was getting the money. Grind them 
out J Liake the deadlines. It v;as a miracle hov; many good 
pictures they made even so. 

Adamson: Why was Quimby's operation different? He v;asn't 
that different a person. 

Huemer: Well, MGM had the tradition of having good men 
there, guys like Tex Avery, and Harman and Ising, and Fre- 
leng, and Ilanna and Barbera. Milt Gross v/orked at iMGM 
for a v/hile, did you know that? Milt Gross told me that 
he used to listen in on Quimby's meetings after hours. 
Qulmby ' 3 spies v/ould come to him and tell him what was 
going on. Milt said he found a place in the floor v;here 
he could listen and hear them spilling everything. He 
was very bitter about MGM, Milt was. Perhaps I shouldn't 
be telling you this. Of course, they're both dead. 

Adamson: Tell me about Fred Quimby . 



167 



Huemer: Tell you about Fred Quiniby . V/ell, let's put it 
this way: the only qualification he had for his job was 
that he was breathins, v;hich he had to do, you knov;. 
Previously, 1 think he had been a film salesman. 

Evidently, the 
MGM management arbitrarily put him in charge, like saying, 
'Okay, Qulmby , you v;ill be head of our cartoon department.' 
They tell me he was a sort of unlettered character. 

The time he was reading a reviev; of one of their 
cartoons in a trade paper which was headed: 'A mediocre 
cartoon,' and Quimby looked up from this paper confused 
and said, ' Macrocolor ? Say, listen! Our cartoon v/as made 
in Technicolor, v/asn't it?" He had misread Macrocolor for 
mediocre! That'll give you a hint of his sharpness. He 
had nothing v;hatever to do v;ith v/hat went into the pictures 
He was just lucky to have good men. (I had that story 
from George Gordon.) 

Adamson: Tell me about the things you did to get V/alt 
Interested in Dumbo , the story. 

Huemer: I'll let you read our outline of the treatment, 
and you'll see little devices in the v;riting. Like I drev; 



168 



a teardrop on the page vfhich said, 'Read no further 
unless you are of strong character and can take It, 
because v;hat we're going to tell you, you won't believe-- 
see you tomorrow!' Sort of kept the suspense from day 
to day. Very corny v/rlting, but v;e thought it v;as a 
good way to intrigue him. Actually VJalt was very sus- 
ceptible to stimulation. People would shov/ him drav/ings 
and he'd light up and get enthusiastic. Little character 
sketches stimulated him into doing the centaurs and 
other mythological characters. He'd say, 'Yeah, that's 
funny.' You knov;? 'That's good, v/e ought to do some- 
thing like that!' And v/e'd be off and running with his 
approval. Again it was a case of bringing logs to the 
head beaver for him to build his dam. Not that he wasn't 
capable of getting his ovm logs. He could get the 
biggest logs you ever saw. 

When you write something or do something, you ana- 
lyze it for the most effective approach and/or an unusual 
v/ay that has never been tried before. You can'c really 
say that there '3 any hard and fast rule for it. But all 
along the line, in every phase of production, you're trying. 
If you have anything at all on the ball, to do it in some 
way that has never been done before. Or always to keep 



169 



suspense, and principally to get surprise, and even more 
than all that: which is the funniest, if comedy is v;hat ' s 
called for. Or if it'o tragedy which occurs in Dumbo 
when his mother is locked up, what is the saddest thing 
you can do? You lock her up, she's caged, it's night 
time, .3he rattles her chains .. .it ' s the most lugubrious 
situation you can contrive. It's simply a matter or 
working and picking aivay , discarding things and coming 
up finally v;ith v/hat ' s best — most shov; v/orthy . 

Adamson: So you had to work hard until you had this 
result? 

Huemer: And how! IJone of that first blush stuff. Sure, 
Walt v;ould often get big inspirations; and sometimes other 
people would, too. But generally it vjas all hard v/ork, 
analyzing and re-analyzing. .. re-re-re-analyzing, discarding 
and starting all over again. 

Adamson: I'm thinking of that wonderful shot v:here Timothy 
has decided that he can't fly, it can't be done, and he 
looks dov/n and sees their shadow on the ground. 

Huemer: Again, that's the result of analyzing and finding 
the most effective way to do it. You could take that whole 



170 



picture and do every scene in it twenty different v/ays. 
Some might be better; although 1 can'c think of anything 
in that picture that might be done differently. I think 
the lumbering elephants are beautiful. Verna Felton v/as 
the voice for one of the elephants. We recorded it first, 
you knov/. 

Adamson: What about taking the easy way out? 

Huemer: No, Disney never imagined doing that. That ' j 
one of the secrets of his success; and we talked about 
his little magic tricks and v/hat his magic consisted of. 
One of the tricks was never leave a thing until it had 
been milked in every possible way, and v/orked out in the 
best possible way no matter how much time it took or how 
much money it cost. He built his pictures that way. 
Actually, .lot that you bring it up, he made many sequences 
just to see if they v/ould work. Even though they weren't 
essential to the story, he ' u go ahead just to see, to try, 
always to try for the touchdovm play. It's how the bed- 
building sequence I told you about in Snow V/hite happened. 
And the eating sequence was also cut out. 

Adamson: You seem to have a lot of respect for this man. 



171 



You couldn't help feeling av;e in the presence of genius. 
This is an actual physical feeling. It reaches out, it 
touches you, like electricity. Figuratively, vie could 
feel him coming dov\fn the hall, our hair would stand on 
end, the backs of our necks would cringle--you could 
hear him coughing. Not that you v/ere afraid of him; 
nobody was afriad of Walt physically. When he came into 
a room and people jumped into their seats, ue bawled 
them out, 'Don't be afraid of me. I don ' I v/ant to see 
you jumping into your seat like that. If you ever do 
it again, you'll hear from me I Don't be afraid of me. 
I don't mind you standing around. If you feel restless 
go out and v/alk in the garden!' I'd like to see you do 
that in front of Quimby or Schlesinger. Those guys loved 
to see evrybody at their boards working as if in a sweat- 
shop. Not Disney; he v;as the first one to introduce the 
idea of relaxing the grim grind on people. And as a 
result he got more v/ork out of them because they worked 
out of love for what they viere doing. And the fact that 
they were doing something v;hich a lot of them thought 
would be imperishable. High sounding words, but it's 
true. V/alt v;as in a lot of ways a very kindly man. I 
think I've told you this, a very fatherly guy in many ways 



172 



He started loan companies for his employees, instituted 
all kinds of incentive programs, and if you did a good 
job on a scene, you v/ould get a bonus without asking or 
expecting it. I remember getting a thousand dollars 
once. One animator got three thousand dollars. All extra, 
mind you, outside of salary just for having done something 
that pleased him. Walt was always v;illing to remunerate 
people for doing good v/ork. He appreciated good animation. 
Direction really didn't mena that much to him at the time 
because of the fact that he_ ..as really the director, and 
the men who called themselves directors were, you might 
say, assistant directors. They did a lot of the routine 
work like timing and handing it out, those technical tasks 
that had to be done. Of course, uhey also put in their 
touches; everybody did that. V/e used to have gag contests, 
and vie would pay money for gags that were accepted; and 
week after week the studio gardener would come off with the 
most money. The gardener! 

Adamson: VJhy didn't he ever become a gagman? 

Huemer: He was a damn good gardener! 

Adamson: As far as employers having this attitude, how 
would you compare Disney with the Fleischers? 



173 



Huemer: I v/ould say I'd like them next to V/alt . I liked 
working for the Fleischers. They were very warm and human. 
So many studio ov/ners or managers were sons of bitches, 
they really were. But the Fleischers v;ere very human peo- 
ple; I liked them. We were good friends; we'd go bowling 
and things like that. Vie enjoyed making good scenes. I 
remember sitting dovm with Dave beside, he'd take a chair, 
and v;e'd talk and v/ork it out. I remember v;orklng out a 
scene of Koko landing on the moon with strange characters, 
a luna army in charge of a looney drill sergeant that 
snapped a Koko v/ith enormous teeth. VJe gave him a funny 
name, 'Bezark,' I think. And it was fun to plan it out 
and animate it and flip it for Dave. And they paid me 
all right; I was getting $150. a week. That v;as bad 
money for those days, and since I enjoyed the work it 
was pleasant being with the Fleischers. 

Adamson: VJhat v/ere your feelings v/hen the Gulliver's Tra - 
vels film came out? 

Huemer: I thought it missed. Don't you? I don't believe 
it was such a financial success. Certainly not compared 
to Disney's features. Maybe they thought it was all right, 
but we a Disney 'o knev; it v;asn't good animation. Oh, It's 



174 



no use my giving a critique on it. It certainly wasn't 
up to a Disney picture. 

Adamson: Did you think that was the trouble with it, that 
it was trying to be a Disney picture? 

Humer: I may be the only one who ever mentions it, but 
I thought perhaps these little characters v/ere supposed 
to be a little like the dv/arves. Is that the name. Gabby? 
Well, there you are, you see, ending v/ith a 'y' like Dopey. 
And you can't compare the drawing to Disney. Can you com- 
pare Gabby to the dwarves? There is no comparison. The 
dv/arves are elegant, grand. And I'm not prejudiced. 

Adamson: Why do you think they made it? 

Huemer: Because after the smashing success of Snov; V/hite , 

it must have seemed like a good way to make a fortune. 

They v;ere getting on the bandv/agon; it's traditional in 
Hollyv/ood. 

Adamson: You're given story credit for Saludos Amigos . 
What part in it did you have? 

Huemer: I did the story of 'Pedro.' And this is hov; that 
came about. Joe Grant and I v/orked up a little story while 



175 



Walt was in South America, called 'Petey O'Toole.' P.T. 
like the letters on an airplane. Joe and I wrote this 
story of the baby mail plane who was to make his first 
trip around the country. He has parents v/ho are big 
transports and they warn him to look out for high tension 
wires. These were v;eird menacing characters (v;hich inci- 
dentally were left out of the story) that live only to 
tear an airplane from the sky. There's a storm and his 
getting lost and the mother going out and searching for 
him and so forth. V/hen VJalt came back he didn'L have 
enough material for one of the South American features 
which he had contracted for so he brought this story 
from Joe and me, and he changed it over to give it a 
South American setting. He now had to carry the mail 
over the mountains, past terrible Mount Acumcagua to 
the coast. 

Adamson: V/ell, who did the transformation? 

Huemer: I wasn't in on that. Joe and I were then working 
on something else. It might have been one of the war pic- 
tures . 

Adamson: Did you write it intending for Disney to use it 
as a short or what? 



176 



Huemer: Naturally v/e thought he might be interested 

In It. It was cute, the little plane v;ith the little nose 

and eyes. 

Adamson: Did you do the drawings? 

Huemer: No. Joe Grant did some of those .. .Martin Provin- 
son...Jack Miller also worked on them. ^o they didn't 
have to change the drav/ing of the character, just the 
terrain, substituting Acumcagua as the menace. We had 
•The Old Man of the Mountain' in ours. It was the Old 
Man who tore planes from the sky because of the v/ind 
around him and everything. The grumbling PT's getting 
lost in the snov/storm, the menace, everything was essen- 
tially in the transposed version. 

Adamson: Is it true about the winds at Acumcagua? 

Huemer: Maybe so. I was never there in my little Piper 
cub . 

Adamson: How about the puns at the beginning, the thing 
about the little boy plane? Were they yours? 

Huemer: Yes, I'm afraid so. Sorry. 



177 



Adamson: I thQught they v;ere great! The conception of 
the mountain was my other question. It v;as a very 
ghastly, imposing figure! 

Huemer: The idea came from the Great Stone Face in the 
White Mountains, but vfe didn't really have any specific 
place in mind. 

Now, Peter and the VJolf ./hich you are going to see 
and for which I did the final story was started by Ham 
Luske and put aside as unfeasible. V/alt gave it to me, 
probably I suspect, to make me uncomfortable. So I was 
stuck v;ith it, analyzed it, and found out why it hadn't 
been coming off. The whole trouble v/as in the intro- 
duction of the characters. If you play Prokofieff's 
recording, ..'ou'Il find the order of characters differ- 
ent from what v/e did. His starts v;ith the introduction 
of the wolf — and the v;hole key of the thing working was 
to take to the wolf out of that. This is hovf simple 
things can be in analyzing. We put the v;olf last, let 
him end the introduction of the characters, and when 
the narrator says, 'And there v/as also a v/olf ! ' you can 
get smoothly into your story. lou couldn't have done 
that with the vralf coming along at the very start. It 
was simply a matter, and it often is, or arranging these 
segments differently. And it worked like a charm. It's 
a good picture thanks mainly to V/ard Klmballs's great 



178 



animation of the huntsmen. 

Adamson: Getting back to the story of 'Pedro,' there 
v/as sort of a jump: you decided he was dead then you 
decided he wasn't dead. Was that in the original? 

Huemer: Well, that's suspense. 

Adamson: Then all of a sudden he comes in! 

Huemer: That's legitimate. 

Adamson: But that was in your story? 

Huemer: Yes, sorry. 

Adamson: I did like the puns though, didn't I? 

END OF INTERVI©'/ 



TAPE NUMBER THREE: SIDE ONE 



Huemer: I v;ant to give you a fevi thumbnail impressions 
of some of the fellows at Disney's. It's not going to be 
easy to make this interesting because after all what can 
you say about guys who come in, sit dov/n, and do an eight 
hour stint at their desks or drav/ing boards. You see, 
animation requires a lot of strict application, nose to 
the grindstone, turn it out. I don't think bricklayers 
work any steadier than animators. It may be art to some, 
but to animators it'^ just plain hard work. 

Now I'll tell you about Norm. Ferguson. Norm started 
as a bookkeeper at Paul Terry's Aesop '.. Fables . Then I 
suppose one day he thought he'd like to animate, tried it, 
and didn't get much encouragement because he left Terry's 
and accepted an offer from Disney. Walt was really hard 
up for men in those days, and he v;as trying almost any- 
body that showed any talent. In every studio there v/as , 
and still is, ^.he so-'jalled Best Animator. When I came 
to work at Disney's in 1933, Norm, or Fergy as v/e called 
him, was it. Not only the best at Disney's but consequently 
the best in the v/orld. 'Walt was just crazy about Fergy 's 



180 



animation and with darn good reason. Fergy's characters 
lived and breathed and seemed to have actual thought 
processes. His Pluto and the flypaper sequence, Tor 
instance, ..as a real classic. It still holds up as v;ell 
as ever today, 19^9 • I just sav; it last week in connection 
v/lth a show were doing for TV this Christmas, and we all 
laughed as much as ever. Fergy did the roughest pencil- 
ling of anybody I ever saw or heard of. The inkers used 
to be almost in despair, ^.icking the right lines to follov; 
out of this mish-nash, but they loved it, they loved to 
work on his stuff because they also knew how great it was. 
They appreciated good stuff v/hen it v/as finally on the 
screen. Fergy v/asn't just a Pluto and Peg-leg Pete anima- 
tor either. He did all the v;icked witch animation in 
Snow IvTnite . He used to say that he would never leave the 
Disney studios, and when he got too old and feeble to 
animate anymore, he'u be perfectly content as a studio cop. 
It's sad to tell you that his wish wasn't granted. Like 
so many animators, eventually he became a director, and 
while I don't knov/ all of the facts it's my belief that 
Walt pinned some of the blame for the poor shov;ing of 
Saludos Amigos on Fergy. I knovi they had several bitter 
arguments, v/hich v/as very unusual. Then one day he was 



181 



gone. Ke found a job v;ith several smaller studios; he 
might even have gone into business for himself. About 
five years afterv;ards he died very suddenly . I remember 
seeing him in a bar, Alphonse's in Toluca Lake, vihere a 
lot of us animators used to go after work, and he seemed 
perfectly all right. The next v/eek I heard that he'd 
died. Fergy had been suffering from diabetes for about 
25 years. Well, I'd just like to say that Fergy v/as one 
sweet little guy, that ' o hov; everyone felt about him, and 
in his ovm vjay , he was also one of Walt's demi-geniuses . 
At a meeting once Vialt said to Fergy, 'Fergy, you're a 
great actor,' and Fergy sort of simpered and said, 'Well, 
I don't know.' And Walt said, 'Yes, you are. That'.' why 
your animation is so good because you feel. You feel v;hat 
these characters feel.' 

Adamson: How did he get an offer from Disney, if he was 
a bookkeeper? 

Huemer: Because he had done some animation. I think Manny 
Davis took him under his wing a little and sort of helped 
him out, so he had actually done animation for Terry. I 
suppose he wanted to improve himself, and Walt was expanding 
and would take anybody with experience. Fergy hadn't anima- 
ted much before, but he fell right into it. He was one of 



182 



the naturals, like Freddy I'loore or V/ard Kimball. It just 
naturally flov;ed out of their pencils or heads or v;here- 
ever it comes from. 

Adamson: Most of V/alt's publicity shov;s an animator 
making faces in a mirror. Was that very comirion? 

Huener: Well, that was done more comjnonly in the days 
before we took to using live action to base the animation 
on. You knov; that Snov^ V/hite, ::he girl, was all photo- 
graphed and the animation based on actual film. Now a 
picture like The Goddess of Spring , which was full of 
human characters, v;as not. And if you v/ere to run it 
today, ,/ou'<.: see hovi difficult it is to animate without 
live action to go by. To sit dov/n and animate a human 
figure, the way you would a cartoon figure. Just doesn'i: 
work out. There are too many little subtleties in the 
thing that make it live. It's my impression that mirrors 
weren't used too much except as a publicity gag. You'll 
see Fergy doing it. 

Adamson: You never used mirrors at Fleischer's? 

Huemer: No. 

Adamson: Or Screen Gems? 



183 



Huemer: No. 

Adamson: Not Screen Gens. Columbia? 

Huemer: No. 

Adamson: Or Mutt and Jeff? 

Huemer: No. 

Adamson: Hov/ often did you use the Rotascope? 

Huemer: For all human characters in features starting v/ith 
Snow_Whlt_e_ . Even Pergy's witch v/as based on something 
Verna Felton acted out. Her actions were reduced to photo- 
stats and he vjorked over them changing the proportions and 
eventually the face and everything. The Prince and even 
the dv;arves v;ere done that way. I remember Perce Pierce 
acting out one of the songs about how lie caught a skunk, 
chased him up a tree, and 'I got the v;orst of him, he got 
the best of me,' something like that. I knov; that they 
photographed animals for Bambi . They had an actual deer 
on the lot; it escaped one day and v/e were running all over 
the Hollywood Hills after it. And when they did Lady and 
the Tramp , they did a lot of photography of dogs to study 
their actions. Of course, it'j not possible to make a 
dog do exactly what those dogs [in the picture] did; it 
can't be done. But you could get the actual physical move- 



184 



ment , v;}ilch you couldn't do just by imagining it. But 
by studying; live action, you can do it. 

Walt was a great one for analyzing that kind of 
thing, everything as rr.uch as he could, which nobody else 
in the business ever thought of doing. 

Nov;, we'^1 talk about Earl Hurd . Back in 191'i or 
1915 Earl had a comic strip in the Ilev; York Mail, a nev;s- 
paper since defunct. It was called Editor I'louse; you'll 
note mice were already used in cartoons then. It v/as 
mostly based on puns some of which I thought v;ere really 
quite clever. Earl had another comic strip in the middle 
20 's called Suzie Sunshine. It v;as a continuity strip 
with a little girl character, and for the first time ever 
as far as I know, one of the characters died. This was a 
very unusual and shocking thing to have in a comic strip 
in the 20's, and it got a lot of publicity. Well, the 
strip died too, eventually, which was nothing new. The 
mortality rate is very high in comic strips, as I knov; only 
too well. Earl was a very inventive guy. He invented the 
cell system for animated cartoons. He also invented a gra- 
duated ratchet system for the movement of pan backgrounds 
under the camera. Before that it used to be done by hand 
by making little gradations on the bottom of a pan. But 
he rigged it up so that it could be done with a crank. In 
his later years he m^echanized his chicken yard in Burbank, 



185 



gates opened and everything operated by electricity. It 
was a very astonishing thing. He v/as a pretty old guy 
then and hadn't aged v;ell. He v;as kind of shaky; smoked 
too much I suppose. For some reason I never figured out 
he kept a live chicken back in his studio in Ne>/ York in 
the 20' s. I don't knov;, i.iaybe he couldn't eliminate the 
farm boy from his nature. There's a memorial plaque to 
Earl Kurd in the lobby of the theater on the Disney lot. 
It's the only one of its kind; nobody else v/ho ever died 
has one. He died quietly of a heart attack in his v;ork- 
shop tinkering to the very end. And also to the very 
end his sketches viere very highly thought of at Disney's. 
He still had a very keen mind and it took a premature 
death to remove him from active participation in the 30 's. 
He was one of the real pioneers. The v/hole idea of using 
cells was his, instead of doing it the way Mcivay did with 
everything on paper and traced. 

Wilfred Jackson has been vjritten up quite a bit. 
You'll find a reference to him in V.'alt Disney's daughter's 
book and in The Disney Version and a book that's going to 
come out this year on Walt. He was a very important man 
at Disney's. I worked v;ith him a lot; he v/as the only 
cartoon director v;ho came to work in sneakers . He v/as 
quite careless in his dress. And I know that when Walt 



186 



retired him after 30 years of faithful service, Jackson 
was also very upset. This happened In 19d2. V/alt gave 
him a gorgeous trip around the v/orld v;lth the goose hanging 
high and the red carpet rolled out. Jackson really got 
the royal treatraent. He had gone on the trip because he 
had had a heart attack and VJalt thought that It v;ould be 
good for him. But It's my opinion that Walt thought also 
that he v;as not really going to be able to come back to 
work, that his attack had Incapacitated him. But Jackson 
stayed on, and I v;orked with him on a fev; TV siiows and 
then In 1958 V/alt retired him. 

I know that he was very unhappy and It took him. a 
long time to get used to this. Ke v/as one of V/alt 's 
very first men, came out of art school poor as a church- 
mouse, hardly had the fare to get to the studio. Ke 
v/orked out the Idea of music v;lth a cartoon, he v/as very 
instrumental in v.-orking that out . 

Adamson: Instrumental, is that a pun? 

Huemer: No pun Intended. As a director Jackson v;as very 
meticulous. Having worked v;ith him, I thought perhaps a 
little too much so. I didn't think it really required 
that much going over. He worried an av;ful lot. I think 
that's why he had his heart attack, he was a worrier. It 



187 



v;as really frightening to v/ork v/itii him, uo see liov/ he v/oulci 
go into something and analyze it right down to the atom. He 
turned out fine v;ork though. 

Adamson: Did he have more art training than the average 
animator? 

Huemer: Very possibly. I think several other animators 
had some art school training. I knov; I did. I know Tytla 
did. And I'm sure that Freddy More didn't. I think Kimball's 
training v;as correspondence school. 

Adamson: Did you ever feel that need for more art training 
than you had? 

Huemer: Yes, I did. I wish I'd had more. I think you 
have only so much talent, that's as far as you go. I don't 
think I had the talent to be an illustrator or a fine artist, 
so I didn't go into it any deeper. There are some men wlio 
have had the talent in the business. I think that Bill Tytla 
vfas a very fine artist and a good animator, in my opinion 
one of the best ever to work at the Disney studios. He was 
a very moody person with the kind of personality that V/alt 
didn't understand. Walt didn'^ understand a lot of people 
that were out of the range of his experience. I think VJalt 
felt Bill was a little foreign or maybe being too Mew Yorkish. 



188 



But Vv'alt couldn't help admiring his animation , because 
v/ho couldn't? It v;as just great. i think it v/as practi- 
cally perfect. His animation of Satan in 'A Night on 
Bald Mountain' in Fantasia is a classic. Bill could ani- 
ir.ate anything funny or otherv/ise. Just the other day 
I sav/ something he did in one of the shorts of a giant. 
It was a beautiful piece of work with all the weight of 
a giant. And I'n sure this was done v/ithout live action 
study. I'd say that Bill can animate anything especially 
weighty characters like the giants or the elephants in 
Dumbo . His wife was alv/ays needling him to leave California 
and go back to Mev; York, and one day he gave in and left 
Hollywood. I know he hated to do it. Bill was very proud 
of his Russian descent too. I can still see him at a party 
beating his chest, a glass of vodka in the other hand, and 
yelling, 'I'm a Cossack! I'm a Cossack!' Cute guy, I tell 
you. Since he's been in New York, I've lost track of him. 
Nor has anything outstanding been done in animation by him 
that I've noticed. It's a shame, a man with his talent 
becoming mired in the mediocre work they do in Nev; York. 

The story about Freddy Moore is that he came to V/alt 
asking for a job, and when VJalt aksed him if he had any 
samples, Freddy fished around in his pocket and brought out 
a few crumpled pieces of paper. And v;hen V/alt saw what was 



189 



on them, they looked so good that he v/as hired right on 
the spot. I don't think he had any organized training 
In drav/ing. Anyway, Walt was very interested in hiring 
him because he was a natural draftsman, absolutely natur- 
al, it flov/ed right out of his pencil. I think that v/as 
the trouble v/ith Freddy, it came too easy to him. V/ith 
the possible exception of Grumpy who v/as mostly Bill Tytla's 
creation and Dopey v/ho v;as Art Babbitt's, the dv/arves in 
Snow White ..ould not have been the same without Freddy. 
?Ie keyed them for what they became. Fred v/as great until 
he died prematurely, indirectly the result on an auto acci- 
dent. I never sav/ so many people at anybody's funeral. 
He v/as another one of VJalt's palladins. 

But you take a guy like Milt Kahl. Freddy's stuff 
looks Sxhallov; compared to Milt's. That was the trouble 
v/ith Freddy, if I may say so, he v/asn't ^"" " And • 

this v/ill show in animation. Bill Tytla, for instance, 
was a very smart guy, imd that's v/hy his stuff had v/elght . 
Again no pun intended. When he did these giants, they had 
weight, :.nd these were great things. Freddy Moore was a 
bit of a lightv/eight that way, but he didn't have to think 
about it, it just flowed out. Any more you want to knov/ 
about him? 

Adams on: Any Moore? 



190 



Adamson: V^as most of Freddy Moore ' .^ activity in the 
creation of characters, or in animation, or in direction? 
What did he spend most of his time doing? 

Huemer: He v;as never a director. It was in the creation 
of characters, his style of drawing and his animation. 
They went hand in hand. Freddy v;as also very good at draw- 
ing girls, beautiful, sexy little v/omen. But they all 
seemed innocent and childlike, again a reflection of him, 
although he was a plenty virile guy. Ke fell out of the 
windov; at the big brawl we had at Lake Narconian to cele- 
brate Snovj White . He fell out of a second story window 
and landed in a bush; he v/asn't hurt at all. This was a 
famous saturnalia that took place on VJalt's bounty. This 
all night affair, this orgy v/here drinks are on the house 
and free rooms, oh boy! V/alt never did that again! I 
myself didn't stay; I left at sundown because I wasn't there 
with my wife. I had to come home. 

Did I ever tell you about when Walt did the Midas 
story? He v^/as out of a director at the time, and Walt 
himself decided he v;ould direct a short. So he got Freddy 
Moore, uhe best animator in the place, for little characters. 



191 



cute stuff, and Norm Fereuson to do the Midas, the big 
character. And Walt personally made out the exposure 
sheets, sat dovm just like v/e directors did, and did all 
the work. And with the best men and the best brain in 
the business, how do you think the picture turned out? 
Lousy. And he had to admit it himself. Now, isn't that 
a funny thing? VJhen it came right down to it, he couldn'u 
do it, and yet he could get it out of other people. This 
is a strange thing. The picture v.'as not funny, it v;asn'"i; 
convincing, you vieren't v/ith it, it just wasn't there. 

Adamson: Well, didn't he in effect direct all the films 
at first? Steamboat Willie and things like that? 

Huemer: Yes, those he did, that's true. But when I got 
there in '33, he already had a staff of directors, Jackson 
and Dave Hand were directing. Walt was just the producer. 
In effect, V/alt moved his directors around just as though 
he were directing, but when it came dovm to v/here he did 
It himself, as he did with Midas, he got a poor result. 
There's something I have to bring out and that is, 
it's my opinion that, great as Walt undeniably was, he never 
would have accomplished v;hat he did if he hadn't attracted 
such talented guys. I always liked to say, 'All rignt , Walt's 
a genius, but he couldn't have done it with Zulus or Eskimos.' 



192 



Like Napoleon had to have brilliant marshalls v;ho v/ere 
talented tacticians in their ovrn right, V/alt had to have 
this group or, i\s 1 call them, the palladins . 

Adamson: How did he attract them? 

Iluemer: Take me for instance. When I turned V/alt 's 
offer down in 1930 to go to v;ork from Nev; York, the moment 
I turned it down, I regretted that 1 hadn't gone to v;ork 
for him. Because Walt v/as doing the kind of animation that 
you could be proud of. VJe ' x^e not in the business just to 
make money. V/e picked animation because we liked it, vie 
wanted to be animators, v;e liked to drav; . So every anima- 
tor regardless can't help admiring superior stuff or v;anting 
to have a hand in it. And Walt v/as such a thundering success 
that I really bitterly regretted that I had turned him dovm 
nad gone with r4intz and just frittered away three years on 
making money but doing little else. And VJard Kimball, who 
v/as undeniably one of these palladins, told me just the 
other day that when he v/as up in Santa Barbara he couldn't 
wait to come down to ask for a job with Walt. These people 
would set their sights on Walt Disney and v/orking for him, 
if they had any talent or ability or desire. 

Adamson: How was it that you got to work for Disney again? 



193 



Did he make you another offer or did you go to hiia? 

Huemer: I v/ent to Ben Sharps teen v/ho was my friend and 
said J 'Well, Ben, I'd like to come and work for V/alt now.' 
And Ben just v;ent and told VJalt and that was all it v;as . 
I went and had this interview with him and in walked 
Charlie Chaplin and H.G. V/ells and I almost fell on my 
pratt . 

Anyway I think that Kimball was certainly one of 
Walt's great acquisitions. Even v^/hen he v/as on George 
Drake's training program he did a marvelous first piece 
of animation lampooning Drake. It v;as so funny that even 
though it infuriated Drake, he couldn't do anything about 
it. It v/as a beautiful piece of work, and it vias one of 
the first things Ward had ever done. You see, Walt set 
up a program. He sent George Drake and Don Graham to Nev; 
York, and they advertised in the New York papers for people 
to learn the animation business. They get letters and if 
the qualifications suited them, '..hey'd write the guy to 
come for an interviev;. And if he passed that, he was signed 
to come to Hollyv;ood and learn animation. There v;ould pay 
him ten dollars a v/eek or whatever it was, just enough to 
get by, and there would be a school of animation. They 
got about 20 guys, paid their fare out here. 



19^ 



, Drake 

tough taskmaster 

•v;as a very ' " and 

resented 

thoroughly by all the kids. But V/ard ' s v/as a very 

v/onderful piece of v;ork, that's vfhy Drake couldn't con- 
ceal it from Walt. Eventually that thing broke up anyv;ay . 
It only lasted for a short time during the thirties. 
What puzzles me about V/ard is how he finds time to do all 
that he does. Being a full time animator is job enough 
for anyone especially with the creativity he puts into it. 
His is a very good story mind and he manages to put his 
personal stamp on everything he does, for instance, the 
cats in Cinderella . That's Ward. I knod of think Walt 
was a little jealous of him, I think he did him that honor. 
Ward is a very clever oil painter, too, among other things. 
He could have shone just in that one medium. He bought 
and refurbished a life-sized locomotive and coach, repainting 
the thing with little designs and fixing it up so that it 
runs perfectly. It's a museum piece; it's such a beautiful 
thing that Walt tried to get it away from him to run at 
Disneyland. He felt he needed another locomotive down there; 
he even told V/ard, 'The men are coming to pick it up tomor- 
row.' And Ward said, 'No. No, they're not!' I don't 
think Walt ever forgave him for that. Then, of course, 
there's V/ard' s Jazz band. The Firehouse Five — which in itself 



195 



is a career. They perform professionally, you know, and 
they have a lot of records out. Mostly ... Disneyland , 
but they get lots of dates at big affairs. V/ard plays 
the jazz trombone. He also put out a very clever book 
of pictures v^/ith captions called Art Afterpieces , v;hich 
went into several paperback editions, in v/hich he takes 
very famous paintings and gives them a funny caption. And 
then he has the best collection of Disney memorabilia in 
the world: Christmas cards, all kinds of Disney toys, dozens 
that v;ere current at one time but can't be gotten now; 
and Disney v;atches, some of v/hich are v;orth $100. apiece 
nov;, dinky vmtches that sold for $1.50. Pie's got a house 
full of that stuff. But I must say he's maintained his ovm 
Identity, he didn't get absorbed in Disney. V/ard Kimball 
is still VJard Kimball and more power to him. He animated 
one of the TV shows that I saw the other day. But I think 
he's going to be a director or producer, like ti:iis TV show 
he just produced. The Mickey Mouse 40th Anniversary Show. 

Bill Peet is another who kept from being completely 
submerged by Disney. Today he's grinding out very, very 
good children's books, and by his ovm admission he's a very 
happy guy. Calls me up every once in a while v;hen he's in 
his cups and talks for hours. Bill has that very happy and 
unusual combination of a keen story sense and brilliant 



196 



comic drawing ability. He v/as also a good painter. I 
don ' c think he v/as ever very happy v/orklng for V/alt, 



' I don 'I think Walt ever 
really knew his worth, but we knew how good Bill was and 
believe me v;e appreciated him. Walt eve tually recognized 
his ability, but by that time Bill v/as so embittered that 
he never quite got over it. Tov/ard the end VJalt is said 
to have told Bill that he v/as much too clever to be v/orking 
for him and asked him why he didn't quit, and Bill did. 
But he didn't do it until he finally had built up a good 
kids' book business. He's got about ten very good books 
out which have nothing to do V'/ith Disney, nor did V/alt 
ever buy any of them to base his pictures on. They're some- 
thing on the order of Dr. Seuss only better in my opinion. 
He draws them and v/rites them. Very interesting character; 
he was a Hoosler. 

Now, there's Don DaGradi . Like Bill Peet, Don combines 
great drawing ability and great story ability. I do think 
Don is the funniest guy I ever met personally. He's not 
doing cartoons anymore, he's graduated. He's doing live 
action pictures v/ith Bill V/alsh. They make a very fine 



197 



live action teara. Actually he and V/alsh are at the moment 
the hope of the studio, nov; that V/alt is dead, DaGradi 
was a lay-out man on pictures like Cinderella . He uses 
that talent on live action pictures nov; . They do a lot 
of sketching, you knovj, for live action pictures. They 
very often lay-out a v/hole picture in sketches, did you 
knov; that? Just like cartoon storyboards. Then they take 
the boards dovm to the sound stage where the stuff's being 
shot and the director looks at it and knows just what to 
do. Maybe that's v/hat ' s the matter with some of them. 
I just worked with Dean Jones by the v;ay on this Disney 
birthday picture. He's a nice guy. 

Adamson: Does he play Mickey Mouse? 

Huemer: Sort of... he puts on one of those hats with the 
ears. V/ell, so much for Don DaGradi. 

Adamson: This brings up an interesting thing. If he was 
such a funny person, why didn't he become a humorist? 

Huemer: I don't quite... 

Adamson: Why be a lay-out when everything you say is hilar- 
ious? 

Huemer: Well, he was an artist basically. He could draw 



198 



like hell. And a great lay-out man, that pays just as 
v;ell as the other. To Disney, it did. Anyv;ay his stuff 
was amateur stuff v;hen he v;as being funny. Sitting in a 
projection room while they v;ere running his comments v;ould 
kill you. Don's part Italian and part English. You 
wouldn't knov; he was Italian, he doesn't look it. He 
doesn't wear a ring in his ear. 

Adamson: Do you know if Bill Peet did any animating before 
Disney? 

Huemer: I don't believe so. He may have been one of the 
people in Drake ' ^ program. When I say that v/as an inquisi- 
tion and a nasty operation, I don't blame Don Graham for 
it. The other guy was the hatchet man and his name v/as 
anathema to the people v/ho suffered under him. You see 
how little I knov; about these guys and I v/orked v;ith them. 
As I say very fev; of us fraternized after v;ork. 

Before Ham Luske applied for a job in Hollywood, he 
also v/anted to be an animator. He had v/orked up in San 
Francisco, I think, on a newspaper. V/lthout the least bit 
of knov;ledge of animation, he made a film test of a player 
serving a tennis shot v/hich v;as just great. I imagine he 
probably studied live action, but he never admitted it. 
Ham v;as a dedicated guy, but he v;as such a v/orrier. VJorry- 



199 



ing about the future of animation after V/alt's death 
may have contributed to his attack of heart failure. He 
was, I v;ould day, directly responsible for the animation 
of Snow White herself. This was the first time anything 
had been done that v;as beautiful in the simple analysis 
of the action. It \\ras done over live action, but if you 
could see v;hat he did, taking the firgure of Majorie 
Belcher (she v;as dressed in costume, of course) making 
the head almost tv;ice as large and cutting dov;n the v/aist 
and reducing it to a cartoon. This v;as a big job; he had 
to do thousands of these. Everybody had to give him credit 
for that. (Majorie Belcher, by the v;ay , became Majorie 
Gov/er Champion.) V/hat he did vjas really a sensational 
advance in the history of animation for serious human cha- 
racters. When Fleischer did the clov/n in Rotascope, they 
didn't change it much. It v/as Dave's proportions, head in 
a suit with the hat, and everything simplified, of course. 
But Ham did more than that. He vjould change the proportions 
so it became a cartoon, a figure. Study her if you get a 
chance any time and see if you can tell how many heads tall 
she is. Instead of a human being, eight heads tall, she 
became five heads tall, so it all had to be different pro- 
portions. He did a great job on it. Anyway, it v;as a big 
advance over The Goddes_s of Spring . He told me that his 
v/ife acted it out for him, but they didn't photograph it 



200 



so it came out terrible. But then none of us v;ere very 
proud of our animation of that picture. I animated Pluto, 
the devil character, and I didn't do it over any live 
action, I just kind of acted it out myself and then drev; 
it. It wasn't very good either. flam became a director 
in the last ten or fifteen years. They took him off the 
last cartoon features and put him on animated TV shov;s . 
And he v:asn't very happy about that, but then you can't 
please everybody, can you? 

I knew Dave Hand in Nevj York v/here we were both anima- 
tors on the Out of the Inkwell staff. I remember vihen 1 
came back there after one of my leave takings , he was let 
out and I took his job. '- 

Dave v/asn't very outstanding as an animator at Disney's, 
but when Walt made him a director, he v;as very effective 
and directed one of the best shorts of that time. V/hen 
Walt really wanted a good picture and he had a real good 
story, I think he gave it to Dave because Dave really put 
the stuff in it. When Snow White was being set up, V/alt 
very arbitrarily pointed the finger at one Harry Bailey, 
an old Hew York animator, and said, 'You're the director.' 
And this was one of Walt's mistakes. Bailey, who is in 
the Great Animating Studio in the Sky nov/, really flopped 
at the job. Bailey was a tall, handsome guy and v;alt v;as 



201 



frequently impressed by the physical aspect of people. 

ability 

Bailey really didn't have the for it. He v/as 

pretty helpless about it, so one day V/alt just demoted 
him and put Dave Hand in his place. Again he just pointed 
a finger and made Dave Hand the chief director of Snov/ 
White . Walt really produced Snov; White as I've told 
you so many times. V/alt v;as in on every single move, 
every single thing that was done. You can't think of a 
thing V/alt didn't okay in that picture. V/ell, hov; can you 
say that Dave v/as the producer? Dave was his assistant 
producer, let's say. It v;as Dave's job, or any producer's 
job to see that V/alt 's directions were followed, to see 
that V/alt got v;hat he asked for. If something v/as obviously 
very bad, the director v/ould see to fixing before Walt 
noticed it, but v/hen it came to making the decisions as to 
what to leave out or what to do next, the director per se 
didn't do it. Walt did it. But V/alt needed this assistance, 
this guy to pick up the loose ends behind him and oversee 
the v/orking out of a feature cartoon. What is directing? 
The janitor used to send in gags. We used to have meetings 
where everyone was called in to give their opinion of some- 
thing — then you v/ere the director. You had to break this 
down into titles of some sort. A producer, theorectically , 
was above a director. A producer like Dave Hand had four 



202 



directors under him and they had to answer to him for 
certain things, but nothing that was of great moment. 
Walt had the last say on that. There really Is too much 
emphasis placed on titles. It doesn't really mean any- 
thing. You can't pin it dov/n the way you can in the Army. 
When I was a director, I was able to sv;eat-box stuff and 
have animators change it without V/alt seeing it. Once 
when an animator balked, we went to Walt and VJalt backed 
me up because I was supposed to present something that v/as 
in fairly good shape for V/alt to pick on. V/alt figured a 
director knew v;hat he was doing enough so that vihen v;e 
weede something out it v;as really bad. Dave v/hen his 
contract expired left the studio, and since then he's 
been involved in some sort of commercial thing in Colorado 
Springs. Evidently he's made a good living. 

Of all the people that passed through the Disney 
studios during Walt's lifetime, no one had the knack of 
getting along v/ith V/alt like Perce Pierce. This plus a 
certain creative ability and a flare for organization made 
him very popular with VJalt. For instance, it was he v/ho 
suggested putting an elevator in the nev; Burbank studio 
when we went over the plans. This v/as unheard of--an ele- 
vator in a cartoon studio? I think Perce had a lot of 
business experience. He had this real pontifical manner 



203 



and all the cliche expressions, 'seeing eye to eye,' and 
'do what it takes.' This went over really big with V/alt . 
Perce was given, v/hlch Is a strange thing, a certain auto- 
nomy over Bambl . Walt shifted the responsibility to him 
and told him to move over to a place which they had rented 
over on Seward Street. They called it the Sev;ard Street 
Studio; it's still there although Disney doesn't own it. 
There he v;as and he sat v/ith his staff and started grinding 
out Bambl . Perce, as I told you, had a lot to do with 
Snow V/hite v/hlch will show In his record and 'Sorceror's 
Apprentice' which he directed. After the war v;hen the 
studio decided to use up its Impounded European currency 
(you couldn't get the money out, you had to leave it there 
and invest it after the war), Perce was sent over to produce 
a series of live action pictures. This v;as the first serious 
attempt at live action features by Disney. He made Rob Roy 
and The Sv/ord and the Rose . I don't think they v;ere finan- 
cially successful; anyv/ay he stayed in England. On the 
opening day of Disneyland in 1955, we got word that he had 
suddenly died of a heart attack at our London office. He 
sat down at his desk and died. He used to tell me how he 
played VJalt like a fish on a line, letting him think he was 
having his way but just v;hen the right moment came to gently 
pull him back. At least he believed he v;as doing this. 



204 



But Perce v/as a guy who got on your nerves at meetings 
because he v/as very deliberate. He never blabbered like 
some people. He'd button his coat and suck his pipe and 
look at the ceiling for a minute (I don'i. know hov/ he got 
av;ay with it) and make you v;ait for an ansv;er and finally 
say, 'Uh-huh.' Pie had this image all v;orked out, and 
Walt loved it. He had a very successful career at Disney's 
which only began to lessen after those live action pictures, 
I think again Walt blamed him for their lack of success. 

Adamson: Had he ever been an animator? 

Huemer: I don't know. I don't think so. I v;onder how 
he got started. I knov/ he very quickly got a director's 
job. He was an imposing guy, too, mature compared to 
animators vfho are really generally naive. The businessman 
type — V/alt loved it. 

Les Clark was one of Walt's first animators. He's 
still going strong today. A quiet, 3elf-ef facing guy who 
turns out a fine job if animation; Walt was very fond of 
him personally and so am I. He's such an unobtrusive guy 

I don't knov; v/hat I can tell you about him. A funny thing 

a draughtsman 
about Les, he not really too great ' , but he's good 

enough to look very good. He ' o not what I v;ould call a 

natural artist. Ham wasn't a natural artist either. Bill 



205 



Peet and Fred Hoore are naturals. Milt Kahl and Kimball, 
too. But there are guys who have to work at it; and it 
isn't quite as brilliant but the animation is still great. 

You'll find a guy on the roll call by the name of 
Dick Anthony. He v/as a cracker jack background and matte 
artist; I think he came from outdoor billboard advertising. 
I knov; he tells stories about being on the scaffolding in 
the freezing weather back East. 

Adamson: He animated to get in out of the cold? 

Huemer: Probably. He was a very moody guy and seemed to 
brood a lot, especially v;hen he was laid off at the studio. 
I asked v;hy he didn't get another job and I couldn't get 
a decent ansv/er out of him; he was a little tetched. He 
was a terrific gun collector, and one day he put a pistol 
into his mouth and sent a bullet through his brain. I 
just bring him to your attention as one of the fev; studio 
suicides. The other was Frank Churchill, v/ho may have 
been V/alt's finest creative musician. He was also the 
studio's outstanding alcoholic; but it didn't interfere 
with his v;ork. He'd come back from a little saloon up 
the street and he was leaning backwards. He used to play 
the piano in the silent movie days to help actors get into 
the mood. I remember being terribly impressed when V/alt 
sent him up to Arrov/head with Larry Ilorey . You remember 
the 'Drip, Drip, Drip, Little April Shov;ers ' number from 



206 



Bambl ? They v/ent up there in the solitude and v^rote that. 
Churchill did very v;ell and bought an immense piece of 
property above Gorman, and there it v/as that he put a 
shotgun betv/een his knees and blew his brains out. I 
think he was brooding about his unfavorable status at the 
studio. He couldn't take falling out of favor, I guess. 

Albert Hurter goes back to 19l8, somewhere in there. 
There aren't any of his drav;ings in existence in any other 
medium besides pencil. I have the only one that's an ink 
drav.'ing, of some horses. But he was very good with pencil 
renditions. Albert v;as a Swiss. Never got married and 
when he died he left a stamp collection that v;as worth a 
fortune. He lived in a dump on Main Street in L.A. and 
outside of his rare European stamps had no outside interests 
The way Walt used him was to turn him loose on a project, 
give him his head over a situation or something and see 
v;hat he could come up with. He'd sit by himself all day 
and fill sheet after sheet with drav;ings, all highly ima- 
ginative and often grotesque. He was on most of the early 
Silly Symphonies. The v;onderful details and carvings in 
Snow White , the furniture, candlesticks, costumes, were all 
his, created or inspired by him. His sort of Medieval, 
Germanic approach v;as just v/hat the picture needed. In 
Fantasia, the demon on top of Bald Mountain v/as his idea. 



207 



A simple pencil sketch suggested the vmole thing to us. 
He shov;ed a demon up there unfolding his vfings and v/e 
picked up the story. That's hovi he operated. Ke v/ould 
give v;onderful inspirational suggestions. He left 
instructions in his will to publish a book of his collected 
pencil drawings, and this v/as done under the title He Drew 
as He Pleased . It has a very fine forv/ard by Ted Sears 
v;ho v;as one of the old timers. V/e sat at the same bench 
up in Fordham. When Hurter dropped out of Ilutt and Jeff, 
he was in advertising for many years. Actually nobody 
else could use him; his animation was all right for Mutt 
and Jeff, but it v;ouldn't have done for the then prevailing 
style. So Walt never used him for animation, just for 
sketches, v;hich was a very clever use of the man because 
he did brilliant, beautiful stuff. Nobody like him, nobody. 

Then there's Winston Hibler. He had some stage exper- 
ience and came to California to work as a blackjack dealer 
on a gambling boat. I don't know hov; he managed to get on 
at Disney's, but he did as a cutter, not as an editor, just 
a cutter. And he was very unhappy because he was ambitious. 
So on his ov;n time in his ov\fn home he worked up complete 
storyboards on Johnny Appleseed . He brought it in, showed 
it to V/alt, :ind he said, 'This is the best news I've had in 
a long time,' and bought it. That's how he started, and VJalt 



208 



immediately put him on story. His narration and story col- 
laboration were certainly Important in setting the tone 
for the True-Life Adventures. His stamp is very indelible 
on those things. Without Hibler they might have been good, 
sure, but he added something extra. Since then he's gradu- 
ated to live action pictures and is nov; a producer. 

Then there's Hugh Hennessey. I think he v;as Walt's 
first lay-out man. And since Walt instituted the idea of 
lay-out men, he v/as probably the first in the business. 
Other studios didn't bother going to the trouble of laying 
anything out, camera fields and fields of action and all 
that. Hugh v<as a very good artist. He has a son v/ho is a 
brilliant painter v;ho is also in the m.otion picture business 
but not in cartoons. I'm pretty sure that Hugh posed for 
the live action of the face in the mirror in Snov; VJhite . 
That's his basic face you see there. Might even be his voice 
He was very active and v/ell thought of to the last, one of 
the big men in the studio; and he died of a heart attack in 
the men's room of Scotty's Castle in Death Valley. 

END OF FIRST PART OF INTERVIEW 



TAPE NUMBER THREE: SIDE TV/0 



Huemer: Uovi , I'll tell you about Fred Spencer who v;as 
the good duck man at the studio. He became the Donald 
Duck specialist. He v/asn'o only good but av/fully fast, 
and v;hen VJalt instituted the system of paying bonuses, 
I think he had Fred in mind because he v/as the principal 
benefactor. He made an awful lot of money on his duck 
stuff. Some of the guys would get up to $3,000. extra 
on a picture that way. If he'd lived, ..e would have 
retired rich, but he was killed in an automobile accident 
coming home from a football game. Not much I can tell 
you about him. He had a very unfortunate disfigurement; 
nis lower jav; had been caved in as a child by a baseball 
bat. So he had a big hollow on one side of his face and 
he was red-headed — that's all I observed about him. 

We had a lot of good oil and viater color painters 
at Disney's. We still have Peter Ellenshaw, an Englishman, 
who specializes in matte shots for V/alt ' s live action 
pictures. He's so good that his latest exhibit of oil 
paintings in Pasadena was sold out the first day, at 
enormous prices. So he's no Sunday painter. 

Then there's Josh Meador. He spent all his spare time. 



210 



every weekend, with oil painting. At first all he did 
was paint seascapes. h'e taught himself and evolved a very 
effective style using only his pallet knife, which he 
pronounced 'pilot neff because he came from the Ozarks 
and had a very thick Hillbilly accent. In fact, we 
thought that his real name was really Josh Meadow and 
that he said, 'Josh Medder,' so he became Josh Meador. 
We don't knov;; this was just a gag. Ke had a very impres- 
sive postumous exhibit in Bardsdall Park in Hollywood 
last year. Ke died in I967. i^ot much I can tell you 
about him except that he was a very strange looking 
man, a very craggy face, really most remarkable. He must 
have had Indian blood in him or something. 

Adamson: You were talking about v/orking in the same room. 
Hov; roomy xvas the Disney studio? 

Huemer: We had rooms as big as this one at Disney's, about 
12 by 8, with a windov/ at one end, a door at the other, and 
a table. There was room for four in these rooms, grouped 
by animator and assistant. So Ham and I shared one room 
with our assistants beside us, and all we had to do v;as 
reach over and hand them v/hatever v/e wanted them to do. 
This arrangement in itself was an innovation. Fergy had 
his room and he had two assistants. Ham and I both later 



211 



had tvjo or three assitants all in the same room. IJever 
more than four people, and there v;as a long rov; of maybe 
ten or tv/elve of these rooms. 

Adamson: Right around at his peak hov; many cartoons did 
he have going at one time? 

Huemer: At one point he had Bambi and Fantasia going, 
and he may possibly have overlapped Pinocchio in there 
somev/here. And shorts went on, too. They never stopped 
making Donald Ducks. 

Adamson: VJhat v;ent on v/ith Bambi in the Sev/ard Street 
Studio? 

Huemer: Down at Sev;ard Street, they were doing storyboards, 
of course, r.nd they vjere doing experimental stuff, loo. 
I remember Perce showing us how he had gotten the dappled 
shadov/s on Bambi when he lay under a bush. Real compli- 
cated stuff. Things like that. And I believe they did a 
little animation there. But the animation was done princi- 
pally back at the main studio, after the storyboards had 
been finished dov/n there. 

Adamson: This must have been the most comfortable, elegant, 
and personalized studio you v/orked in. 



212 



Huemer: V/alt was a great stickler for that. He v/anted 
the furniture painted, and he had good-iooklng Individual 
desks painted Ivory v;lth little touches of orange here 
and there. V/alt always wanted nice surroundings; along 
the celling v/e had little blue borders of conventionalized 
flowers and things . A great regard for outvmrd appearances 
was a vital part of Walt's make-up. 

Adamson: V/as the studio shovm to a lot of people when it 
was in operation? 

Huemer: Not much; that is, not much to the public, until 
we moved to Burbank. There were alv/ays prominent people 
vjho v;anted to come through that V/alt v/anted to show it off 
to, actors or maybe a governor. And after a while the 
studio instituted tours, but they don't do much of that 
any more either. 

Adamson: Like Universal City? 

Huemer: Nothing like that, don't get that idea! There 
were only certain days and these were small parties vmo 
would be pretty well screened. It wasn't indiscriminate. 
They never made a thing of it like at Universal; but it 
v;as done occasionally. 



213 



Adanson: You said a couple of people succeeded in not 
being submerged by Disney. Do you think most people v;ere? 

Huemer: Sure, like in any business. If you don't devote 
yourself to it, ^, ou probably won't be successful. I 
never v;anted to be submerged in it, and never really was; 
Bill Tytla was another. I mean this blind devotion, this 
automatic chauvinism, that some people have. Not everybody 
had that. Ham Luske had it. It was a blov; to V/illy 
Jackson to be let go when he had devoted himself so whole- 
heartedly to the studio. It's hard to take for guys like 
that . 

Adamson: Did you ever feel any sort of resentment about 
the Impersonalization of becoming a Disney employee? 

Huemer: For a long time, of course, there v;ere no screen 
credits whatsoever. I'm sure everybody secretly resented 
that. Not actively. What could you do about it, anyway? 

Adamson: And then when credits did appear, there v/ere so 
many names that the effect v/as still anonymity. 

Huemer: Well, I, for instance, had a legitimate beef on 
not getting a credit of Pinocchio , on which I did a lot of 
v/ork. But I never made an issue of it. What did I care? 



21^1 



As I say I never v;as a chauvinist regarding the studio 
of anything else for that matter. Very often a guy 
would do work and somebody with a say in it and having 
It in for him would kibosh his credit. I think I told 
you in an earlier session that, personally, I can take 
it or leave it alone. I'm the laziest person you ever 
met, and v^orklng two days a week at the moment suits me 
fine. It should 've been that v;ay right along. Not 
having freedom of motion, being able to get up and leave 
when I v/anted, bothered me. I understand that it's 
economically impossible in the animation game where it's 
a question of turning out footage, you can't expect your 
boss to let you off the hook... when I v/as a boss, I certain- 
ly v;ouldn't ket my people loaf either. It's very ambiguous, 
the vfhole thing, isn't it? Life is that way. 

Adamson: I asked you once before if it bothered you to 
work nine to five and you said, 'No.' 

Huemer: Let's say at one part of my career, it didn't; and 
then later it did. When I first started, like everybody 
else, I was eagerness and fire and excitement and involved 
in the fun of it, naturally. When I had certain jobs at 
the studio that I liked, when I was a director, I loved it. 
It was thrilling to sit at your desk and make decisions and 



215 



to have power in the creation of the thing. I v;ould've 
worked ten hours. But hunched over a board animating, 
making a character move from here to there, that v/as 
just too much. Then I looked out the v/indov;. 

Adamson: Do you think this bothered most of the people 
at Disney, that they were not recognized as individual 
creators, but everything they did v;as looked upon as the 
work of Walt Disney? 

Huemer: I don't knov/ if it was an active resentment. 
Sure, it may have been there; but v;ho else in those days 
v;as given credit? On Scrappy or any of those dopey Mintz 
pictures, v;e didn't give credit to animators. It was by_ 
Dick Huemer. It was kind of taken for granted. Nobody 
got credit for 'Out of the Inkwell' except Max — 'Max 
Fleischer's Out of the Inkv/ell' and that was it. It was 
^ ^3-^t accompli . You couldn't combat it. You might wish 
when you did some really nice stuff on an early Disney that 
you could have your name on it, but there are other things 
involved. It was only a short; you couldn't help thinking, 
'Who [out there] cares who animated it?' Most people surely 
didn't. Like credits on TV shov;s--I never read them. 

END OF INTERVIEW 



TAPE NUMBER FOUR: SIDE ONE 



Adamson: Walt didn't have much affection for Alice In 
Wonderland , did he? 

Huemer: I think It was over his head myself- i think he 
muffed the whole Idea of It. To me , it's one of the great- 
est books In the English language; It's much too good for 
children. And V/alt was unsubtle. All the brutality of the 
Queen, that was exaggerated. But the thing that I was 
greatly disappointed in v/as the 'V/alrus and the Carpenter' 
episode. It turned out dreadful, but VJalt can't be blamed 
for that. Bill Peet handled that completely by himself, 
simply because Walt v;asn't with it, he wasn't interested. 
He often v;ithdrew from things he didn't quite dig. 

Adamson: Do you know v/hy he did it in the first place? 

Huemer: I think he felt he had to do it. People were alv;ays 
writing in and saying why don't you do this, why don't you 
do that. I myself asked him back in 19 38, why don't you 
do The Hobblt . He couldn't see it. But people constantly 
v;ere saying, 'V/alt Disney simply must do Alice in Wonderland ! ' 
So vie did it! And that's how it turned out. Blah! 



217 



Adamson: Do you suppose that'- why he had people like 
Aldous Huxley on it, to try and figure out v;hat there 
was he vmnted to get? 

Huemer: It's my personal opinion that he thought it 
would be a great name to associate v/ith the picture. 
V/alt was always very conscious of publicity and the effect 
of things. This seemed to be a good gesture, to have one 
of the great living English writers do the great English 
classic. And there was a similar quality about Lewis 
Carroll and Aldous Huxley, although Carroll v/as to my 
mind the greater literary figure. Huxley contributed not 
one thing to our Alice in VJonderland . V/alt was very 
clever that v/ay . When he did Fantasia he picked Stokov/ski 
one of the greatest names in music at the time, and Deem.s 
Taylor, who was the great American authority and critic 
on music; and Dick Huemer, who went to operas and knows 
all the good restaurants in Philadelphia. Ah! I have lived 
I don't know any other reason why he picked Alice ; it v/as 
simply a great classic and incumbent upon him to do it. 

Adamson: I guess that was his feeling with VJinnie the Pooh , 
too . 

Huemer: No doubt of it. 



218 



Adamson: Does 'Blustery Day' have a sequence stolen from 
Dumbo ? 

Huemer: Yeah. Cannaballzed . The Pink Elephant sequence. 
Even the lyrics of the song have the same flavor. It's 
different but you can see that it was profoundly influenced 
by the original in Dumbo . I suppose it's legitimate to 
repeat; it's probably a great compliment. 

Adamson: Do you suppose this had anything to do v/ith Walt's 
resentment towards Dumbo : take it's novel, best scene and 
steal it for another picture? 

Huemer: I don't knov; about that. The Time Magazine article 
really did give the impression that Walt didn't have much 
to do with it, and V/alt was quite angry about it. So even 
though Dumbo has alv;ays been regarded as one of V/alt ' s 
better pictures, he hated it, and to this day I don't 
believe it had been re-released. The TV version v/as cut 
dovm and our credits were taken off. ^Blustery Day' in 
the Winnie the Pooh series included that sequence, a direct 
copy from the big item in Dumbo , the same basic structure 
even to the sensation of a nightmare. Walt v;as that way. 
He had to own lamb. Until the mother licks the lamb clean 
and makes it hers, she won't nurse it. 



219 



Adarnson: Eventually you and Joe Grant fell out of favor 
with Disney. 



Adamson: He had economic trouble at this point, didn't he? 



Adarnson: Wasn't that part of the reason? Some kind of 
financial difficulty? 

Huemer: Oh, viell, yes, of course. I think that was really 
the basic reason. I think it was Cinderella bhey were v;ork- 
ing on and I remember V/alt saying, 'This is it. We're in a 
bad way. If this picture doesn't make money, we're going to 
be finished! The studio's going to be kaput!' The staff 



220 



v/as cut v;ay dovm and vie got cut dovm v;lth it. Whereupon 
I went to v;ork for John Sutherland, who had a studio 
making commercials and anti-Communist propoganda pictures. 

Adamson: You'd been attacking Nazism during the v/ar . 

Huemer: Yes, like 'Der Fuerher's Face,' and also 'Invita- 
tion to Death.' The answer is obvious: you make a buck 
hovjever you can. I-lr Sloan, then the head of General 
Motors v;as a rabid anti-Communist, and Sutherland's pictures 
were designed to show hovi much better off American workers 
v/ere than Communists, that v;as the gist of them. The 
other pictures Sutherland made were just commercials. 
For instance, we'd do spots for G.E. Then I was called 
back to Disney's. One day the phone rang; it v/asn't V/alt 
but the guy who was hiring people. He said, 'Drop in. We 
have something for you.' They had an idea for a picture 
that had been kicking around, about music. They v;anted to 
do something semi-educational but funny and easy to take. 
I was putoon that and out came Adventures in Music . The 
first picture v;as called Melody , and the second was Toot , 
Whistle, Plunk, and Boom , v/hich was up until this last year 
the last time that Walt v/on an Academy Award for a short . 
That was about ten years ago. I was getting up another one 
about the nostalgia of music, with the sam^e characters. 



221 



Professor Owl and the Cuckoo bird v/lth a dunce cap. I 
got the v;hole board up and presented it publicly in the 
Penthouse Club, Walt, Roy, and several others, and it 
went over great. Then they suddenly decided not to make 
it. And I did a very bad thing. I figured they didn't 
want It, so I took it down and carelessly left it some- 
where and it was thrown out. It's one of the lost stories, 
like the sequence of Snovj White I did v;hich by strange 
coincidence v/as lost, too. On that stuff I have the 
roughs on film, but the drawings are gone. Anyv/ay , they 
called me up after I had left and said that nov/ they 
wanted to do the music picture, and they wanted to knov; 
where it v/as . I couldn't tell them. I left again briefly 
and v;ent to v;ork for Plorell for a few months doing commer- 
cials. We also had a pilot on a cartoon series v;hich didn't 
sell. They were starting a series and doing something 
similar to v/hat I'm doing with you nov/, because even then 
I was considered an authority on the old days on animation. 
We made these four shows v;hich were all about the animation 
business, 'Tricks of the Trade,' 'The Art Spirit,' 'The 
Plausible Impossible,' and I forget the name of the other 
one. I reconstructed the circumstances under vvhich V/indsor 
McCay did 'Gertie the Dinosaur.' He'd say, 'Are you hungry, 
Gertie? Here's an orange,' and he'd throv/ somiething up onto 



222 



the screen. And Gertie v/oulcl pick it up. It was very 
clever. They reproduced it exactly from my descriptions 
and even hired an actor that looked like McCay. And I 
remember seeing this in 191^. I was in high school at 
the time. He also made the Titanic v/hich I didn't see 
at the time. 'The Art Spirit' was about Kenried, an artist 
who was a great art instructor in Uevi York at the National 
Academy of Design v;here I studied. I shov/ed hov/ a vlev\r- 
polnt can differ from artist to artist. Hark Davis, 
Josh Meador, Eyvlnd Earle, and Walt Peregoy, these four 
studio artists, v;ere to go out and paint a tree, the same 
tree on the same Sunday. I have one of their pictures 
hanging over my mantle, the one Josh Meador did. And it 
was amazing hov; differently each saw the same tree. Like 
Eyvlnd Earle, who does v/onderful Christmas cards, delineated 
every knothole, every Inch of bark, every leaf, very deslgny, 
That's the sort of thing I v;as doing at this time. Then 
Walt vjanted to cancel out units. He cancelled Jackson's 
unit out. Jackson, myself, and others were taken off 
active production. I had been doing this True-life adven- 
ture strip since about 1955 on the side. So I just went 
on doing that; I v/anted to retire anyway. I was old enough 
and even more tired that I was of animating that figure 
across the page. So that's all I've been doing; hoping you 



223 



are the same. 

Adamson: Show me the books you've got there. 

Huemer: This Is the source of my material for v;rltlng 
the True-life adventure strip. I go through natural 
history magazines, National Geographic, Arizona Illustra- 
ted, these are all great sources for this sort of thing. 
Of course, I have to dramatize and also change it so the 
author can't check back and say, 'Hey, you stole that from 
me!' That is the trick. 

Adamson: How do you change it v/ithout falsifying it? 

Huemer: Say the coyote does something; I'll have a wolf 
do it. They're the same kind of animal, you knov; . 

Adamson: Doesn't that kind of destroy the verisimilitude? 

Huemer: You can't prove that a v;olf doesn't do it ! I defy 
anybody to prove these things! But I have to be careful. 
In everyone of these books it says, 'Nothing is to be used 
v/ithout permission of the author.' Look at that. You'd 
be surprised hov^; similar all these titles are. There must 
be dozens that are Mammals of this. Mammals of that. The 
stuff, what I'm doing, really isn'u funny. Although I do 
try to look for amusing things. VJe have to be careful to 
avoid anthropomorphism. 



224 



Adamson: Before you said, 'We have to do some anthropo- 
morphism, but not too much!' 

Huemer: Did I say that? 

Adamson: That's v;hat you said, yes. 

Huemer: Then you're right. You've got a better memory 
than I have . 

Adamson: Plus I read all this stuff last night. 

Huemer: The trick with the True-life adventure is to have 
the reader Identify v/ith something in his life. Even though 
animals can't possibly think about things the v/ay we do, 
when a dog seems to be talking to you there's a tendency 
to believe. That sort of anthropomorphism v;e ' re allov/ed 
to do. Sometim.es there's a little comic tv/ist, like when 
an eagle attacks a badger, v;e say, 'He'll find that it 
didn't pay to badger a badger.' That badger's a hell of 
a fighter; he'll bite the eagle's leg off. 

Adamson: Is there that much to be known about the world, 
once a day for the last fourteen years? 

Huemer: You'd be surprised. 

Adamson: Vlas it going before you? 



225 



Huemer: No, I started it. Walt came in to the head of 
the comic strip department and demanded that it be done, 
to back the True-life adventure films. You may v;ell ask 
v/here the material came from, but one thing leads to 
another. I must admit that it becomes somewhat formular- 
ized. Through six days a v/eek — it runs on Saturdays, too, 
you knov; — there v/ill be a small domestic animal (like a 
badger or v;easel or squirrel or mouse), a large domestic 
animal (deer, mountain goat, or a bison), and something to 
do with the ocean or pond creatures (fish, whales, crabs, 
or abalone). You see, ./e've got three days already. And 
the fourth day we simply must have a bird; there must be 
a million things about birds. The fifth day, I go to 
Africa or South America, monkeys, lions, giraffes, or entire- 
ly exotic animals. That leaves one day, and I'll take some 
natural phenomena like earthquakes or tidal waves. Or trees, 
the fact that the bark of Sequoias is fire-proof v/hich is 
why they have lasted tv/o thousand years. The bark repels 
boring animals, as well; clever tree, isn't it? Then it's 
formularized further into mother love, mating battles, use 
of tools, cleverness. I call this 'Mother Nature's Inventions' 
How i-zoodpeckers actually use their beaks as levers. So man 
didn't invent the lever, :;he v;oodpecker did. You'll never 
run out of material. And sometimes you can go back and 
svfitch the viewpoint from the antagonist to the protagonist. 



226 



I Just did one of the Seguarro cactus, :;. great bic thing 
about tv;enty feet tall. V/oodpeckers make holes in them 
and live and them, and later little elf ov;ls live in them 
after they are abandoned, and some mice. So in a sense 
it's an apartment house. I usually type the v/hole v;eek's 
work in about a day and then I read. I'll take notes 
nad get maybe five items out of here, maybe just one or 
tv;o, maybe none. 

I worked for V/alt from 1933. We knev; him socially, 
too; he was in this house. We all sav/ each other socially 
at first, for many years, then it became an unnatural 
arrangement. I felt uncomfortable, so I don't think it's 
good for bosses and v;orkers to socialize. One by one 
everybody dropped out of the little coterie. If you were 
a soldier fighting for Napoleon you wouldn't v;ant to go 
to his court for dinner, ..ould you? Once I got on this 
strip, I never v;orked with VJalt again. 

Adamson: He doesn't pay much attention to his comic strips? 

Huemer: Actually Roy Disney ran that department and still 
runs it. Frank Riley is head of the comic strip department 
and first asked me to do it because he felt 1 could. Again 
it v;as a question of economics. When I was taken off film 
production, all I had left to do ivas the strip. So I do it 



227 



and enjoy It very much. For one thing I get in a lot of 
reading, and it's creative as hell. You can't just put 
dov/n the fact that a bird fell out of a tree. You've got 
to tell a story about it. And it's also got to be accu- 
rate because people check on us all the time. We get 
requests for certain copies of it, because there are a 
lot of people v/ho like the strip and collect it. Once 
I had an item about Old Faithful geyser, and in a bit of 
careless writing I said that it went off every thirty 
seconds. I got by Frank Riley, it got by the artist who 
drav;s it, it got by the King Features Syndicate's editor. 
It got by everything and everybody. It got into every 
paper in the country, and we got letters! Every thirty 
seconds! It would be going continously if it v;ent off 
each thirty seconds. I console myself by thinking that's 
an editor's job, to watch things like that. 

I've alviays wanted to be a writer; I guess i must 
have said that somehv;ere along the line. I have v;ritten 
some stuff. I wrote a whole novel that was never published, 
It was back in the forties about an airplane on the way to 
South America, and it carries an underworld thug, a young 
couple married to other people eloping, a priest having 
trouble with his religious convictions, and it gets caught 
in turbulence and crashes on a shrouded mountain. It's 



228 



foggy all the time, and they don't see the sun and don't 
knwo v/hat's north, east, south, or v;est. It goes through 
all kinds of secondary and tertiary plots, very complica- 
ted. All they hear is a church bell. Some are hurt and 
some die, there's a terrible mess. Finally they get 
tired of v/aiting for rescue and v/end their v;ay down the 
mountain. And lo and behold they come to an area v;here 
a derelict ship has been tossed right up there. I suppose 
you can guess what's happened. There's been some kind 
of cataclysm which caused terrible tidal waves around the 
world and reached almost to the top of this mountain, 
Chimborazo or some such, in South America. They're the 
only people v/ho v/ere saved as the result of being in a 
plane. When I wrote this in 19^8 they're weren't so many 
planes. Now there v/ould be about tv/o million people, eh? 
It's an open-ended novel. How can you resolve a thing 
like that? The whole thing winds up when an avalanche of 
ice and rocks descends on the ship. 

Adamson: And wipes them out? 

Huemer: V/e don't know. I wish I knew how it ended. That's 
the last I vjrote. I am a disappointed novelist. Animation 
was just another form of expression. 

Adamson: Would you say this is true of most animators, that 



229 



they are people v/ith tentacles out in all directions? 

Huemer: Well, you take a guy like V/ard Kimball. He has 
so many facets, it's almost ridiculous. The band, the 
books, the painting. Pie had a v/hole exhibit in the studio 
library of mechanical pictures! V/hen you pressed a lever 
a ball went up or something clever happened, they v.-ere 
animated paintings. There's no end to v;hat V/ard can do. 
And I knov: Max Fleischer had been a political cartoonist 
on the 'Brooklyn Daily Eagle.' It v/as a great paper 
killed by unionism. When 1 v;ent to see ilax recently, he 
showed me a book that he had done some years ago called 
Noah'^ Shoes . In a sense it's like the true-life stuff 
I':.", doing, lots of facts about animal life. I was afraid 
to tell him v/hat I was doing because he might think I had 
borrowed some of the ideas out of his book. I must say 
I was really tempted when 1 read it. Some of the bits of 
Information he dug up about creatures and their habits 
were quite good. He did a great research job, and it was 
a cute idea, a tongue in cheek kind of thing that refutes 
the Biblical story of Noah and the Ark. If you bring tv;o 
of everything on board, you've got to bring v;hat they eat 
also, and one eats the other. You've got to bring both the 
good and the bad, you get dovm to flies and how many germs. 
Max wrote it very well, and he was probably hoping that 



230 



somebody v;ould pick it up and make a movie or a cartoon 
out of it. 

Adamson: It v/ould be kind of hard to do. 

Huemer: Oh, it v.'ould be impossible. All those animals! 

Adamson: All those germs! 

Huemer: The germs might be funny: 'Creatures from Inner 
Space.' That's another one of my true-life titles. 

Adamson: Do you knov; if Max or Dave invented the Rotascope? 

Huemer: I think so. Oh, you're asking v/hich one of them. 
I'll opt for Max. I think Max had more of the inventive 
bent. He invented lots of things; but I don't know of 
anything Dave invented. Does Dave take credit for it? 
No wonder they don't speak. 

Adamson: V/here did you hear that Max did it? 

Huemer: From Max's v;ife. 

Adamson: When you v;orked there, you v;orked with Dave. 

Huemer: Yes, I never v;orked with Max. Dave, you might say, 
v;as the director of the thing. He chose the stories at that 
time. But I'm sure Max did the first ones without Dave. I 



231 



v;orked v;ith Dave. Ke sat beside me at my desk and v/e 
talked: 'What are we going to do? Let's do so and so — 
Ha, ha!' That's hov; we did them. V/e didn't v/rite any 
stories up, comrait them to paper that is. VJe didn't 
know what a board v/as . Their relationship was not like 
the traditional producer-director relationship. They 
were so close then that it v;as like one and the same 
person. They were one person, in a sense- they blended 
in my mind, or so I used to think. 

Adamson: You didn't see any arguments or anything? 

Huemer: Never. Outwardly they got along very well. 

Adamson: They split up five times according to Dave. 

Huemer: Oh, they may have, but I never heard anything 
serious, so in my mind it remained a very placid sort of 
thing. They seemed to get along like good brothers. The 
very fact, hov/ever, that Dave was the one that v/ore the 
clov/n suit from which they took live action photography 
to rotascope makes me think that maybe he v/as in at the 
start. I think he must have had the Rotascope right av/ay. 
It's too bad Max v/asn't able to talk to us. They almost 
alv;ays had the Rotascope in their pictures which caused me 
to marvel at how life-like it was. But how horribly it 



232 



jittered; when a £uy stood still, he shook all over the 
place. V/hich they couldn't get av;ay from. 

Adamson: Do you knov; anything about their Red Seal 
organization? 

Huemer: A little bit. Max started it with a guy from 
Agfa named Strauss. He bankrolled Red Seal. They over- 
extended themselves, having booking offices all over the 
place, and they didn't have the product to justify the 
expense. They bought French things, and in those days 
there was no sound so it didn't matter, and they had their 
cartoon. They made Carrie of the Chorus, a serial. Ruth 
Fleischer changed her name to Ruth Florence and she acted 
in them. 

Adamson: She acted in them? Was she Carrie? 

Huemer: No. She v/as Carrie's friend in the serial. Ruth 
Fleischer is Max's daughter. Dave directed it. 

Adamson: Dave directed Carrie? 

Huemer: Uh-huh. I can still see him walking around v/ith 
a whistle hanging from his neck, ^he plus fours, and the 
glasses, to look at the lighting. In those days it was 
pretty simple, you didn't need sound, you didn't need color, 



233 



People just v;ent out with a camera and made pictures. 
That's why you could make them so cheaply. Hov; do you 
suppose they made Mutt and Jeff for fifteen hundred dollars? 
There v/as no color, no music, no synchronization to v/orry 
about, no nothing; but damn good stories. I've told you 
all that haven't I? Carrie never set the world on fire. 
It never gave Griffith a moment's worry. Max v/as the 
business head of it. He v;as the guy v/ho confronted v;ho- 
ever had to be confronted, disgruntled investors and v;hat- 
not . So it ended in the backer taking over the whole 
thing and Max being ousted, and Red Seal films was liqui- 
dated. Hov/ever, they weren't able to get the clown away 
from Max. So he set himself up over at Astoria on Long 
Island, opened a little studio and continued making song 
cartoons. It was a little industrial section right under 
the Queensborough Bridge. Later they moved back to 16OO 
Broadv/ay . 

'Aesop's Fables' v;as the first to do opaque cells as 
they do today. I think that Earl Hurd v/as the original 
inventor of cells in animated cartoons, very possibly when 
he v/as v/orking for Bray. Bray v;as head of the outfit where 
he was doing his work, and that may be hov/ Bray caiae to be 
associated v/ith their origin. I don't knov/. 

Adamson: When you worked at Associated Animators, v/hy did 



23^ 



you pick Mutt and Jeff? 

Huemer: Because it was available. It had been a going 
series. Everybody knev; about Mutt and Jeff; they v;ere 
still in the papers. Anything that had publicity already 
going for it v/as a good bet. We also knew the lawyers 
who v;ere handling Bud Fisher ';:. affairs and were able to 
contact them and get permission to do it. Of course, 
we had to pay them so much every picture. We could have 
picked Krazy Kat, v;hich somebody did not much later. I 
suppose we could have picked any cartoon strip character. 
Like Happy Hooligan, Katzenjammer Kids, Rube Goldberg 
things, they'd all been done. 

Adamson: Hov; clearly defined vjere these characters when 
you v;ent to animate them? 

Huemer: It was a built-in thing in the strip that Jeff 
was alv/ays the fall guy for Mutt who always picked on him, 
but then the worm would turn and Jeff would out-fox him. 
It was a rivalry, like Laurel and Hardy. If we did a 
picture about painters, any kind of a gag that came along 
pertaining to painting v;as okay. They fell off scaffolds 
or painted a big bull that came to life, keen old stuff 
like that. Very unfunny stuff like that, I'm afraid. But 



235 



the second Mutt and Jeff series v;as done of the present 
opaqued cell system. 

Adamson: Was that better stuff? 

Huemer: I viould say so. Vie v^ere more careful about our 
stories. And then things overall looked better with this 
opaque cell way of doing it. 

Adamson: VJas Koko a clear character in your mind? 

Huemer: No. There was no characterization in that series, 
on that fella. Disney's the guy that brought that into 
animation. In a situation, Koko did what anybody else 
vjould do. 



END OF FIRST PART OF INTERVIEV/ 



TAPE NUMBER FOUR: SIDE TWO 



Adamson: The same thing with Scrappy? 

Huemer: You could loosely say that Scrappy v/as a little 
boy. He didn't smoke, he didn't drink, or go out v/ith 
dames. That's about the only characterization. The gags 
could be interchangeable v;ith a dog or a gorilla. 

Adamson: What did V/alt do with character and motivation? 
Did he discuss them over the storyboards? 

Huemer: Did he? You bet your life! Sure he did. That's 
the one thing that v;e got all the time. V/hen 1 v/ent to 
work for him, vie did Silly Symphonies, and the characteriza- 
tions were very clear in those things. Like v/hen they did 
'The Tortoise and the Hare.' It could only be the hare v;ho 
acted the v;ay he did, bombastic and boastful, yet talented. 
That was good clear characterization. The tortoise was 
definitely staged as a stupid guy v/ho could good-naturedly 
be taken advantage of. Actually he won by default. But 
this v;as the kind of characterization that V/alt insisted on. 
If anybody else had done 'The Tortoise and the Hare' it would 
all have been a series of gags about running, one after 



237 



another. But not all this clever, boastful stuff like 
stopping V/'ith the little girls and bragging and being 
admired, and showing off hov; he could play tennis with 
himself. V/alt v/ould take stories and act them out, kill 
you vfith laughing they vjere so funny. And there it 
would be. You'd have the feeling. You'd know exactly 
v;hat he v;anted. Walt could have been a great actor, or 
a comedian. That's what made his pictures great. And 
the characterizations in Snovf White v;ere beautiful. Just 
think, taking each one of those dwarves and making each 
one an entirely different personality. It vjas just unheard 
of! 

Adamson: Where did Scrappy come from? 

Huemer: I felt that a little boy v/ould be a good charac- 
ter. They needed a rounded character v/hich v;ould be 
appealing. Then we could do things with him. Like once 
when he v.'as v;ashing he put a tov/el in his ear on one side 
then pulled it out all black on the other side. You knov;, 
kids get dirty. The very fact that no one else was doing 
a little boy seemed an advantage. 

Adamson: Why do you feel the series didn't work out? 

Huemer: They weren't worked out story-wise as v;ell as Dis- 



233 



ney's. No matter v/hat you say. It comes dovm to this: 
'The play's the thing.' Walt v;orked out his stories 
dovm to the last blink of the eye. On the outside 
we might do little pre-.jketches , but there v;as no time 
for real analysis. That's what V/alt v/as able to do, give 
time to these things, because he had the money coming in 
on his licensee projects already. V/e v/orked on a pretty 
short budget; we had to have one of these every tv;o v/eeks. 
We'd come back at night sometimes just to talk about the 
stories and save animation time. They tried that till v/e 
rebelled. Nobody v/anted to do it. I don't knov/ hov; other 
studios operated; I guess they v;ere more or less alike. 
Nobody could put the meticulous care that VJalt put into 
the stories, the perfectionism. The inventiveness that he 
supplied v/asn't coming out of anybody else. Ke v/as there 
to do it. Ke v;as one of the greatest story minds ever. 
And you can see that not having him. on a series like 
Scrappy would make all the difference in the world. I, 
as one of the story men on Scrappy, certainly can't compare 
myself to Walt. Scrappy still exists on film somewhere. 
My son teased me with one. 

V/e all went to work for Disney as dedicated people 
who appreciated what he v/as trying to do and felt vie v/ere 
in on something historic. Like people v;ho might have 



239 



helped Michelangelo, we v;ere v/orking v;ith a thing that 
was going to last and that v/as going to be remembered. 
We were all enthusiatic and had v/hat vie thought v;as a 
beautiful studio. This made you feel good. Every once 
in a v;hile, V/alt would throw a luncheon in a little dining 
room with a stained glass windov/ and a long table dovm 
the middle. We'd discuss the next story, sometimes pre- 
sented by the author, and v/ere Invited to criticize or 
to add improvements. All this v/as stimulating and wonder- 
ful. V/e had classes to improve our drav;ing, and Professor 
Harkovln, who v/as teaching cinematography dov/n at USC, 
gave us lectures about picture-niaking and analysis. 

Adamson: About vjhat? Cinematography? 

Huemer : About cartoons and v/hat v/e v/ere doing. Actually 
he knev/ nothing about it, but V/alt meant well. Ke v/ould 
ask us things on the side. You know v/hat a plumber's friend 
is? 

Adamson: It's a plunger, isn't it? 

Huemer: Exactly. He asked one day, *I don't understand. 
They keep taking about the plumber's friend. V/ho is this 
friend of the plumber?' 

Adamson: Who talked about the plumber's friend at Walt 



240 



Disney studios. 

Huemer: Oh, we had one in every picture. This is v.'hat 
got caught on the duck's hide quarters or his head, and 
Mickey was always using a plunger. V/alt liked those earthy 
things, you knov;. 

Adamson: Just to finish up, explain to me how they syn- 
chronized music v/ith action back in 1929. 

Huemer: There's a space alongside the image v/here the 
track should be, right? It's empty v/hen there's no track, 
so there's a space. You just ran this film through the 
camera, and you photographed a baton, the v;ay you wanted, 
every four frames it v;as up, every four dovm, whatever the 
beat was. So it was animated and you photographed the 
whole cartoon this v;ay . It was photographed separately, 
and according to the exposures sheet you'd knov; v/hat the 
beat was supposed to be. VJhen it v/as projected with the 
matte open on the projector, you could see this baton 
bouncing up and dovm. The music director watched it and 
synched the score to that beat. That vms the Fleischer 
process; but Disney didn't use that. He had clicks v;hich 
you heard by earphone. You made a loop of film, then you 
punched the soundtrack so that it made a click every four. 



241 



five,, or six frames. The music director had earphones 
and he directed to. Automatically, it fit the picture. 
They were eight, ten, tv/elve a second; I don't think 
they varied much from those. They still do this. You 
animate a scene to an eight beat, so v/hen you play an 
eight beat in your ear it v/ill fit. Of course, there's 
:..ore to it than that. They have bar sheets and the music 
has to be written to accentuate the positive. 

Adamson: Do you v;ant to bring it to an end now? 

Huemer: Yeah, why don't we? I'm getting hungry. 

Adamson: Goodnight, Chet. 

Huemer: Have you got enough? Goodnight, er... Frank? 
Louie? Tom? Joe! 



END OF INTERVIEV 



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